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Dark destinations – Visitor reflections from a holocaust memorial site

Dark destinations – Visitor reflections from a holocaust memorial site

Liyanage, Sherry, Coca-Stefaniak, Andres ORCID: 0000-0001-5711-519X and Powell, Raymond (2015) Dark destinations – Visitor reflections from a holocaust memorial site. International Journal of Tourism Cities, 1 (4). 282 -298. ISSN 2056-5607 (doi:

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Purpose – Dark tourism and, more specifically, visitor experiences at Nazi concentration camp memorials are emerging fields of research in tourism studies and destination management. This paper builds on this growing body of knowledge and focuses on the World War II Nazi concentration camp at Dachau in Germany to explore the psychological impact of the site on its visitors as well as critical self-reflection processes triggered by this experience.

Design/methodology/approach – This micro-netnography resulted in fifteen online semi-structured interviews carried out with people who visited Dachau between 2003 and 2015. The interviews involved participants from eleven different nationalities and a range of age groups.

Findings – This study has shown that emotions that surface during a tourist’s visit to a concentration camp destination can linger well after they have left the site. In fact, feelings of sadness, depression, anger and existential questions can haunt visitors for a considerable amount of time after their visit. Further reflections by visitors also included a more critical appreciation of world affairs. This is of particular significance when considering the behavior of tourists in an urban setting.

Originality/value – This research builds on previous dark tourism studies related to the onsite emotions experienced by visitors to concentration camp memorial sites and their travel motivation but takes this knowledge further by exploring the hitherto uncharted longer-term post-experience impacts of these sites on their visitors. Recommendations for dark tourism destination

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dachau concentration camp, Dark tourism, Germany, Netnography, World War II, Visitor experience
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Faculty of Business > Tourism Research Centre
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2017 00:38

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