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Pearl Harbor as a Dark Tourism Destination - Case Study Example

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Current paper focuses on the potential value of Pearl Harbor as a tourism destination. Because of its history, as a place where thousands of people have been killed during the World War II, Pearl Harbor can be classified as a dark tourism destination…
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Pearl Harbor as a Dark Tourism Destination
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The development of a place as a tourism destination is based on a series of facts. Primarily, the ability of the place to attract tourists need to be evaluated. At this point, the characteristics of the place, in terms of history, sightseeing options and leisure options, if available, are taken into consideration. Current paper focuses on the potential value of Pearl Harbor as a tourism destination. Because of its history, as a place where thousands of people have been killed during the World War II, Pearl Harbor can be classified as a dark tourism destination. As in other similar tourism destinations worldwide, Pearl Harbor represents the efforts of people to promote peace and control the effects of their past conflicts.
In order to understand the role and the value of Pearl Harbor as a dark tourism destination it would be necessary to refer to the context of this type of tourism. In accordance with Goeldner & Brent (2009) the term dark tourism is used in order to describe the trend of visiting places where tragedies (usually important ones) have taken place. Dark tourism should be characterized as a rather contemporary type of tourism (Sharpley & Stone 2010), reflecting the need of people to show their respect towards the victims of a particular event. From a similar point of view, dark tourism has been characterized as an important tool for emphasizing on important historical events which have been related, or which have resulted, to a tragedy. On the other hand, Lennon & Foley (2000) view dark tourism as a means for promoting specific political ideas and social trends.
Pearl Harbor is related with a tragedy; on the 7th of December 1941 Japanese attacked the place causing the death of approximately 2350 people, mostly Arizona crewmembers and just few civilians (Hawaii Island 2011). The attack started quite early in the morning, at 6.05am, a fact that offered to Japanese a significant advantage, as proved by the level of damage caused to USA troops (Hawaii e-travel 2011). In the past, Pearl Harbor has been considered as a bay full of oysters; after the attack the place was transformed to an important historical site, offered for dark tourism, as proved through the thousands of its visitors annually (Hawaii e-travel 2011).
The development of Pearl Harbor as a historical site has been gradual. The whole area is under the management of the National Park Service (NPS). The above authority initiated the establishment of the USS Arizona Memorial; at a next level, three more historical sites were established, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the USS Missouri or Mighty Mo and the acific Aviation Museum (Fischer 2011). All these areas are part of Pearl Harbor, as a historical site. Tourists need to pay a fee for visiting these sites and need to follow the instructions as including in the relevant tour program (Fischer 2011). As highlighted in a report referring to Pearl Harbor the particular place is an ideal dark tourism destination but concerns are developed regarding the ability of children to visit it. It is made clear that young adults would be more capable of understanding the value and the nature of the place, as an historical site; on the contrary, small children would avoid to visit the place unless they are accompanied by an adult (Fischer 2011). Indeed, without limiting the historical value of the place, it could be noted that Pearl Harbor is a grave – site (Fischer 2011) and it is this point on which the value of the place as a tourism destination is based; the area has been developed as a historical site for reminding to modern people the potential consequences of the war but also the value of cooperation for world peace. The development of Pearl Harbor as a historical site began in 1962 with the establishment, then, of the USA Arizona Memorial. Because the Memorial was considered as not adequate for highlighting all aspects of Pearl Harbor, as a place of an important tragedy, the establishment of additional historical sites, around the Memorial, was decided.
Due to Pearl Harbor, the characteristics of Hawaii as a tourism destination have been altered. More specifically, Hawaii has been traditionally considered as an excellent destination for tourists who wish to enjoy the nature; because of Pearl Harbor Hawaii has also become a dark tourism destination. The number of tourists visiting annually the historical sites in Pearl Harbor is estimated to 1.5 million (Fischer 2011), making Pearl Harbor one of the most popular destinations of the particular country. In accordance with a report published by the Hawaiian state, Pearl Harbor is the country's key historical site, as reflected in the number of its visitors annually (Hawaii state info 2011).
The USS Arizona Memorial and the rest of the historical sites in Pearl Harbor, as described above, have been developed in order to remind to the visitors the events of that day. Today, Pearl Harbor attracts the interest of thousands of tourists annually. In fact, the USS Arizona Memorial is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Hawaii (Hawaii Island 2011). Moreover, it seems that the two countries, USA and Japan have managed to limit the effects of Pearl Harbor. People from both countries visit the place regularly proving that the relationship between has been significantly improved. In this context, in July 19 2011 a tea ceremony was held in Pearl Harbor under the direction of Dr. Genshitsu Sen, a grand tea master (Hawaii Island 2011). The USA officials and crewmembers that survived the Pearl Harbor attack welcomed the above initiative. Pearl Harbor can be characterized as an ideal dark tourism destination at the level that it meets the key requirements of this type of tourism: it is related to a tragedy and its historical development is valuable for understanding the development of politics and social ethics.
Fischer John (2011) Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from
Goeldner, C. & Brent, R. (2009). Tourism: Principles, Practices, Philosophies. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons
Hawaii State info (2011) Honolulu. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from
Hawaii Island (July 19 2011) Japanese Tea Ceremony To Be Held at Pearl Harbor. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from
Hawaii e-travel (18 March 2011) Pearl Harbor facts. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from
Lennon, J., & Foley, M. (2000). Dark tourism. Belmont: Cengage Learning
Sharpley, R., & Stone, P. (2010). Tourist experience: contemporary perspectives. Oxon: Taylor & Francis Read More
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