Dark tourism is associated with taking a tour to a death filled environment, for instance, visiting the death camp of Auschwitz, the 9/11 memorial in New York or the Hiroshima Peace Museum in Japan. The paradox of different tourists visiting such sites across the globe is referred to as dark tourist. The dark is associated with this kind of tourism as a result of the negative attractive features of the tourism sites, which are normally brutal in history. The topic of dark history is not a new concept despite having been explored deeply in the recent past. This essay focuses on the dark tourism typology that contributes to the growth of international tourism with a case study of the apartheid memorials in South Africa.
The concept of dark tourism has been poorly researched over time, especially with regard to the motives behind tourists visiting such sites. Therefore, different elements of dark tourism have not been clearly understood to date. Tourism can be defined as an attempt by people to understand otherness. Since people began traveling across the globe, they have been attracted and drawn to different places, sites, and events that are associated with negative historical events, for instance death, violence, disaster, or suffering. As suggested in the name, dark tourism is associated with human activity that is triggered by an eagerness in the dark features of human reality. The history of dark tourism is traced back to the era of the Roman times when people gathered in different arenas to witness gladiator’s wars and public executions, particularly in the mediaeval ages. This shows that dark tourism began a long time ago and only the name has been tagged in the recent past. Stone described travel to death sites in 2005 as an old concept in the new world. There are different types of dark tourism but the following are the common ones:
- Attending public execution process
- Touring sites of mass deaths or personal deaths after their occurrence, for instance, earthquakes
- Visiting burial and memorial sites
- Witnessing the actual proof of deaths at different places
Other forms of dark tourism include museums that have stored weapons of death, attire of murder, and other objects. Therefore, dark tourism is significant to some extend in helping people to understand their own death and not merely for entertainment purposes.  Dark tourism mainly thrives around war situations, slavery, murder, and other death memorials, which have an impact on human lives. Dark tourism sites have distinct characteristics that are categorized into four main attributes. Firstly, the site must involve a human perpetrator and a human victim. When these characteristics are present, people identify themselves with the perpetrators or victims, thus triggering them to visit the sites. Secondly, the perpetrator must have intentionally committed an action of brutality and the victim must be inferior with no capacity to control the situation. In this case, due to the fact that the victim is aware of the evil actions of the perpetrator, the act is ferocious. For a site to be also considered a dark tourism destination, the events or occurrence must have been exceptionally serious with unusual characteristics. This implies that the events need to be extra ordinary; beyond the normal understanding of human nature. The event should be remembered, therefore, requiring knowledge and memorability. A history should also be attached to it, for instance, the issue of terrorism and the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States.
Current Dark Tourism
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism has become one of the leading industries in the world. The industry is flourishing because of the constant new trends of tourists in travelling to different parts of the world that make their adrenaline to rush. Dark tourism has developed to become the latest trend in tourism, despite being imminent for the past years. Therefore, the concept of dark tourism has become an important subject in the tourism industry globally. Apart from being acknowledged as one of the main forms of tourism, dark tourism has also been used as a promotional tool in the industry. Dark tourism, like other forms of tourism, is beneficial to a given place because of financial gains and other benefits accrued from the visiting tourists for offering them educational knowledge. In some instances, dark tourism is considered controversial due to its direct connection with death.
There are different ranges and categories for dark tourism sites. The Apartheid memorials found in South Africa presents one of the sites with dark tourism characteristics. This is because of the brutality and killings of the black Africans during the oppression period in their nation, which is considered to be an atrocity. Before discussing the dark tourism of these sites, a brief history of the apartheid is provided.
The apartheid is the period between 1948 and 1994 when the National Party in South Africa incorporated exploitive rules and policies, which were aimed at subjecting the majority of black population in the nation. Under these repressive rules, the black population was forced to live in segregated places away from the whites that dominated the government. Everything, including public facilities, was separated and used on the basis of race. In as much as the policies and rules received national wide and global condemnation, they were upheld for close to 50 years in South Africa. This forced repel of the rules in the nation, thus forming a foundation of the apartheid.
Before the 20th century, racial segregation in South Africa had taken root as supported by the white population. This was mainly steered by the Controversial Land Act in 1913, which gave more supreme powers to the white population in the land ownership in the nation. This law ensured that blacks were allowed to live in rural areas and could work as sharecroppers. This led to the formation of the South Africa National Native Congress and later the African National Congress. The great depression and Second World War effects were also felt in the nation, which made it to heighten its social policies. For instance, citizens were categorized into four classifications: Black Africans, Asians, Mixed race, and Whites. All intermarriages between these categories were banned and later children were segregated as either white or colored. The unfair treatments from the whites to the majority black community in South Africa led to resistance that was in form of demonstrations, strikes, mass actions, and armed rebellion. A general rally by ANC leaders was convened in 1952 and was interrupted by the police. Several leaders were arrested and the police killed approximately 67 people. This led to a series of murder of African leaders and their arrests. The apartheid also led to the arrest and imprisonment of the leader of the ANC, Nelson Mandela, in 1963 that elicited national wide condemnation. The brutal killing of 600 students in Soweto in 1976 by police who were agitating for better education was the climax of the apartheid in South Africa.
As a result of the apartheid, several sites in South Africa are visited by tourists as part of dark tourism. For instance, the Robben Island cells are part of the sites where the nation icon, Nelson Mandela, spent 18 years of his 27 years in prison. This is also a site where Mandela fought for equality rights for his people while being roughed up, beaten and humiliated. He thought he would never live again. Moreover, the District 6 Museum located in Cape Town was also the site for regular protests and civil wars in the nation. The museum comprises large elements that enable tourists and other visitors to have an authentic experience. For instance, there is a bench that only the whites could sit on and banners that the former residents of the district six and their remaining close relatives have shared their memories. The apartheid museum in Johannesburg also provides a rich educational information about the history of the apartheid. Upon entering the museum, people are segregated along racial lines to demonstrate a feeling of how the situation was during the apartheid. These are the main and common attractive sites in South Africa that promote dark tourism
Robben Island is one of the acknowledged apartheid memorials in South African republic. The site is also among the most frequent visited attractions in Cape Town area. The place has a long rich history of where many black outcasts and rebel leaders were abandoned and confined respectively. During the apartheid peril, Robben Island became the famous place where many of the majority rebel black leaders were detained between 1962 and 19911. Internationally, Robben Island is recognized as the place where the late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for more than 18 years. He spent the other years in different places. During the perched period, the place was referred to as the Island and has become one of the most attractive sites for tourists who experience the way life must have been for the former freedom fighters in South Africa. Previously, the place was an incarnation site that has been turned out to be a tourism attraction for dark tourism and heritage site.
Initially, the place served different roles. It was a prison, a medical facility for socially segregated people, and a military base. The unwanted members of the society were also taken to the Island. With its symbolism during the apartheid struggle, the site presents a clear picture of the way freedom and democracy overran oppression and racism in South Africa through the world icon and celebrated figure Nelson Mandela.
The District Six represents the famous sixth municipal district of Cape Town, which was created in 1867. This was a community for everyone in the nation, for instance, the freed slaves, merchants, and other populations regardless of their race or skin color. It was among the lively neighborhoods close to the city center. Nevertheless, on the onset of the 20th century, segregation of people in South African began and many blacks were evacuated from this region in 1901. This made the place to become one of the disliked places due to the brutality of city council. Later in 1966, the place was declared to be a white territory zone alone, thus ending its initial livelihood. Many black people were forcefully evacuated from the area and their housed were destroyed. To preserve the memories of the area, the district museum was established in the year1994, which shares the experiences of the horrifying events. Currently, this is one of the most visited attractions in Cape Town for dark tourism.
Apartheid Museum of Johannesburg
The apartheid museum in Johannesburg provides a rich historical information about the brutality experiences by the South African population. As part of the dark tourism attraction site, many tourists engage in the emotional and informative aspect of the apartheid in the museum. This is provided through exhibitions that focus on the oppression faced by the black people in South Africa. This is demonstrated at the entrance of the museum where people are segregated on racial backgrounds, an aspect that symbolizes the experiences that were present during the apartheid. The museum has attracted numerous tourists across the globe and local ones. The sites have deep roots in the concept of dark tourism as a result of the reasons and motives behind the tourists’ visitation.
Dark Tourism in South African sites is as a result of human nature in the fascination of death. Currently, death has become one of the facets that are part of the society’s consciousness. The curiosity about death, especially the students and other people killed during the apartheid is among the drivers of international dark tourism to the apartheid sites in South Africa. As a result of media portrayal and other promotional activities, most tourists become interested in visiting the death sites to satisfy their curiosity. Due to the fact that no one has ever died and come back, most tourists also want to visit the apartheid sites in South Africa to connect with the unknown fear and get the experience that gives them some measurable pieces of death. This helps them to also accept death as part of human life.
Moreover, tourists visit apartheid sites a part of dark tourist to gain further knowledge and information. Information gathered in the museums and other areas provides first hand data that is crucial in recording history and serving other purposes like research. As this happens, visitors from different parts of the world enhance international tourism in the nation. Most people also visit the apartheid sites in South Africa since they see it as an ethical responsibility once an individual is in the nation. Despite being like other forms of tourism attraction, apartheid memorials have a more significance in the history of the nation and the world. Due to the fact that they give a picture of dark tourism, as a result of the severity of the experiences that happened, the sites cannot be compared to other normal tourism attracting destinations. The motive for visiting the destinations have far more reaching experiences other than entertainment. Many people, due to the empathy facet, find it unethical not visiting the sites while on a visit to South Africa to experience the struggle, suffering, and deaths that people went through in the hands of white powers. This process enhances international tourism. Other people are motivated by the media presentation of the destination and films, for instance, after watching movies like “sarafina” that present an analysis of the apartheid in South Africa 
Dark tourism is not a very new concept in the current world of tourism since it has been present for several years without being identified. There are different motivations and reasons why people take part in dark tourism to understand the trends in the tourism industry. This is the same notion with apartheid memorials dark tourism. Understanding the typology of dark tourism in the memorials and other sites is significant for educational purposes and helps in the management of such sites. There are different types of dark tourism sites with different levels of lighter and darker shades. Dark tourism is, therefore, part of the larger tourism industry that had not been exploited in the previous years. The concept of dark tourism in South Africa has opened several avenues in the tourism industry by people having other motives that are not only entertaining in their visits. This enables a tourist to share feelings and experiences of some of the historical occurrences, which were horrific to human kind. In South Africa, apartheid memorials provide one of the best dark tourism sites for not only entertaining but also sharing human experiences at the same time introducing the concept of empathy among people and source of income. There are several other concepts that have not been exploited that with time will enhance the dark tourism sector in the sites that will be beneficial to both the nation and the global tourists.
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. Philip Stone and Richard Sharpley, “Consuming dark tourism: A thanatological perspective.” Annals of tourism Research 35, no. 2 (2008): 574-595.
. Chris Phelan, “Confronting mortality moments: death, dying and the consumption of dark tourism.” Diffusion-The UCLan Journal of Undergraduate Research 1, no. 2 (2015).
. Rebecca Casbeard and Charles Booth, “Post-modernity and the exceptionalism of the present in dark tourism.” Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism & Recreation Research (JUPTRR) 4, no. 1 (2012).
. Maximiliano Korstanje and Babu George. “Dark Tourism: Revisiting Some Philosophical Issues.” E-review of Tourism Research 12 (2015).
. Erika Kulcsár and Rozalina Zsófia Simon, “The Magic of Dark Tourism.” Management and Marketing Journal 13, no. 1 (2015): 124-136.
. Takalani Mudzanani, “Why is Death so Attractive? An Analysis of Tourists’ Motives for Visiting the Hector Peterson Memorial and Museum in South Africa.” Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 5, no. 15 (2014): 570.
. Gerard Corsane, “Transforming museums and heritage in postcolonial and post-apartheid South Africa: The impact of processes of policy formulation and new legislation.” Social Analysis (2004): 5-15.
. Takalani Mudzanani, “Why is Death so Attractive?
. Philip Stone,”A dark tourism spectrum: Towards a typology of death and macabre related tourist sites, attractions and exhibitions.” Tourism: An Interdisciplinary International Journal 54, no. 2 (2006).
. Rami Khalil Isaac and Erdinç Çakmak, “Understanding visitor’s motivation at sites of death and disaster: the case of former transit camp Westerbork, the Netherlands.” Current Issues in Tourism 17, no. 2 (2014): 164-179.
. Graham Busby and Miss Helen Devereux. “DARK TOURISM IN CONTEXT: THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.” European Journal of Tourism, Hospitality and Recreation
1(6), 27-38. (2015).