To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: Dark Tourism in East and Southeast Asia: “Why Are Tourists Flocking to Human Tragedies?”
1: A Growing Appetite for Dark Tourism in Asia
Friday, March 26, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Freelance journalist, Cambodia
From Cambodia’s killing fields and Vietnam’s harrowing Cu Chi tunnels, to gawping at children orphaned by devastating natural disasters, such as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and 2004 tsunami, dark tourism is a trend that is on the rise across Asia. This has sparked fears over exploitation, the role this form of tourism plays in modern-day travel and visitors’ motives. In this paper, the growth of dark tourism will be examined, giving examples of sites across the region that are garnering the most interest, while questioning what is driving this global appetite for travel to destinations scarred by death and suffering? As travel becomes more accessible, and the trend of sharing experiences through social media more widespread, are macabre experiences playing a role in educating and atoning, or do they remain vulgar and voyeuristic attractions? Speaking to industry experts and those tainted by the horrors being viewed, this paper ultimately aims to paint a picture of how war, genocide, natural disasters and poverty have become major money-making tourist attractions. It will highlight initiatives that are using tourism as a tool to heal, help and reconcile, as well as those that have garnered a more negative response. The role and behaviour of tourists when visiting such sites will also be analysed.