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Battlefields, cemeteries and sites of natural disasters have always drawn tourists (Cohen, 2011). According to Smith (1998:205) destinations associated with war probably constitute the ‘largest single category of tourist attractions in the world’ (cited in Stone & Sharpley, 2008). The term ‘dark tourism’ was coined by Foley and Lennon although work has been previously conducted on tourism and death (Stone & Sharpley, 2008).
However it is only recently that dark tourism has received the attention of researchers (Cohen, 2011) which is endorsed by Kang et al (2012) as the Holocaust site of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland received 1.2 million visitors in 2007 while Ground Zero in New York has attracted 3.5 million visitors. Dark tourism sites include battle sites and death camps, the death sites of celebrities and sites of extraordinary disasters.
While tourism has a pleasant connotation, ‘dark tourism’ does not give rise to the same feelings. However, availability of information and data from the internet has increased the demand for dark tourism (Travel Weekly, 2005). This has led to commoditisation of the concept and it is now ‘packaged’ to attract tourists. For instance, the London region has places such as Soham (Cambridgeshire) where murders of two young school girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman had taken place. Soham is now a day-trip destination, packaged by tour operators and visited by people from many parts of Britain to lay wreaths and sign the book of condolence. People of Soham are pleading with trippers to stay away (O’Neill, 2002) suggesting that people and the destination are adversely affected by such touristic activities. It can even lead to exploitation of the local people and the environment. London has several other dark tourism locations such as the Tower of London, the Bank of London, Larry
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