Dark Tourism: An investigation into students’ motivations for visiting locations of death and disaster, using the case studies of Ground Zero and WWII concentration camp Auschwitz
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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There has always been an enthrallment with death and disaster, and locations associated with death and disasters have increasingly continued to attract tourists, resulting in a genre of tourism known as ‘dark tourism’. Whilst dark tourism has been widely studied by various academics, such as Sharpley and Stone, it was noted that there was an absence of understanding concerning why people choose to engage in visitation to dark sites. As a result, this study was primarily concerned with exploring what motivates students to visit dark tourism locations, using the case studies of Ground Zero and Auschwitz. These locations were chosen as they are of high interest to the researcher and both sites attract a large volume of visitors every year. The purpose of this study was to identify the key motivators to visit Ground Zero and Auschwitz, to explore the influence media had on visitation to these sites, and to determine whether students are more drawn to more recent or historical locations of death and disaster. To achieve these objectives, both qualitative and quantitative research methods were incorporated. 58 quantitative questionnaires were distributed to students and the researcher also constructed qualitative semi-structured interviews with three students who had recently visited Ground Zero and Auschwitz. This dissertation encompasses six chapters devising of an introduction to the study, a literature review regarding dark tourism and visitor motivations, the methodology incorporated within the study, with chapter four then illustrating the results of the research. Chapter 5 then consisted of a discussion and an analysis of the key results obtained, with the final chapter concluding and summarising the study. From reviewing the findings of this research, the study has been able to conclude that there does not appear to be one sole motivator for any student to visit locations of death and disaster and that there are multiple key motives and influences for students to visit these sites, in particular the media, education and remembrance.
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