Turismo nero

Tourists pose in front of an art installation created to commemorate the tens of thousands of Javanese villagers displaced by a mud volcano eruption in 2006. https://qz.com/536790/photos-when-a-natural-disaster-creates-a-hot-tourist-attraction/

Hi everyone,

While doing some research for my upcoming exams, I came across this article about a new sort of tourism that I hadn’t really considered before: black tourism, or tourism to places of tragedy.

It might, at first, seem unbelievable that people want to travel to places of natural disaster, war zones, or countries under a dictatorship. But why are those places unthinkable, but Auschwitz and Ground Zero are acceptable tourist attractions?

For the author, it’s about the way people behave at different tourist sites: “Chi si precipita a vedere le macerie di Amatrice o quelle dell’albergo a Rigopiano non ci va per rendere omaggio o commemorare i defunti, ci va per farsi un selfie, in maniera ben diversa da chi si reca in visita ad Auschwitz o a Ground Zero.”

However, I also think there’s an element of distance from the events that plays a part. The article is talking about a tragic event from 2018, that people flocked to see in the days immediately after, whereas Auschwitz is certainly less recent history (although of course, no less significant for it). But at what point does it become acceptable to visit a tragic site? Is it purely a question of time, or is there some criteria: safety, dignity, legality…

Do you think the new developments of social media have contributed to this new wave of tourism? Is it a coincidence that the term “Black tourism” was first coined in the mid 90s, when the internet and photo sharing technology was really starting to take off?

Let me know what you think.

If you’re especially interested in the ethics of the tourism industry, take a look at the following articles:

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