The Dark side of Dark Tourism
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Tourism and its industry have been around for a long time and has been growing over the last decades, becoming part of the experience economy. Dark Tourism, being a relatively new and popular sub-category, consists of many different types of destinations. This form of tourism attracts many visitors and has its economic benefits to those working in the sector and the area where such a destination is located. However, Dark Tourism often goes hand in hand with ethical dilemmas and critiques, such as the gain of economic profits and the behavior of the visitors. This conflict, regarding the potential development of the Dutch Dark Tourism industry, is therefore the main goal of this thesis paper. A dataset has been acquired through an online survey, distributed through social media. A variety of questions, regarding Dark Tourism interests, previous visits, economic factors, and behavior, were filled in by 203 respondents. In addition, an interview with a respondent working in the tourism industry was held in order to gain more background information. The data was then analyzed with the use of SPSS and interpreted based on the research questions. The results of this research show that the most popular and visited form of Dark Tourism are destinations that fall into the darkest category of Dark Tourism. Hence, future Dark Tourism development should focus mainly on the darkest form of Dark Tourism. However, this has its limitations, as one cannot simply ‘copy’ popular destinations such as Auschwitz or Chernobyl. Even though the lighter forms of Dark Tourism are less popular potential destinations amongst the respondents, they are often visited and are therefore an area of growth for the Dutch Dark Tourism industry. Profits can be made but should be used for the preservation and education of the area. Potential visitors of such destinations should be warned and reminded of how to behave in a desirable manner. Behavior while visiting a Dark Tourism destination is an area that often receives critiques. However, according to this research, the Dutch population often acts in a respectful manner. Furthermore, this thesis leaves room for potential further research. Onsite observations would be of informational value as an addition to the survey. In order to make the survey 100% representable for the Dutch population, a more controlled manner of distributing the survey should also be executed. Lastly, many respondents visited the Dark Tourism destinations as part of a larger trip organized by educational institutions. Therefore, these institutions should focus on education the children on the history of such Dark Tourism destinations, and on how to behave respectfully while visiting. These conclusions and recommendations signify the potential of the development of the Dutch Dark Tourism industry, while maintaining the ethical standards and staying within the ethical boundaries.