Derived from Greek word Thanatos (meaning Death), Thanatourism, aka Dark Tourism has grown to become a popular and profitable travel niche. By definition, Thanatourism is all about traveling to places that were once (or still are) associated with pain, suffering, horrible living conditions, natural and manmade disasters or death. Oddly enough, people who live in the areas known for being the top Thanatourism destinations enjoy the popularity (and money) dark past (or present) of the area generates.
Studies of human nature confirm that people find death and suffering irresistibly attracting. While hypocrites would choose to stand in denial, one doesn’t need to be a genius to notice how everybody on a bus turns their head if there is a deadly accident at the intersection the bus is passing by. And as much as a sight of a person who was just attacked by a shark would turn your stomach upside down, if you are on a beach and everybody starts gathering around to see what happened, you will not be the only one who would resist the urge to get a glimpse of a deadly encounter.
There are books dedicated to deeds of mass murderers, websites about medieval torture devices, even dedicated gore portals that report on the less pleasing events taking place around the world on a daily basis. Yes, it’s in bad taste and potentially morally questionable, but if there was no interest in macabre from general public, none of it would exist. In other words, it’s due to this insatiable desire to see death and suffering from up close that resources covering the macabre events of our past and present continue popping out.
And it is the same insatiable desire to see death and suffering from up close that gave birth to the Thanatourism travel niche. People will pay money to stand in a room where others were tortured and killed. You can almost hear the screams of those who suffered through the last moments of their lives as you step inside.
The power of money seems to be a strong enough force to make descendants of the sufferers to build up stalls selling memorabilia related to the dark events associated with the place. In most Thanatourism areas, you will get approached by taxi drivers who will be more than excited to tell you about and take you to the places of their dark past or present. Everybody wants money and if exploitation of their own suffering and/or death of their predecessors can easily generate it, then so be it. And this is precisely why Thanatourism is such a booming industry.
I am not here to judge anybody and hope none of Vacation Ideas readers will either. Turning a blind eye to the dark events of the past, or choosing to ignore them will not erase them from history. Thanatourism aka Dark Tourism is here to stay as fascination with death continues, so will the popularity of this potentially questionable travel niche. If on the other hand you would like to visit some of the most interesting Thanatourism spots, check out the Top 10 Dark Tourism Destinations.