• Dark tourism refers to the growing industry that takes tour groups to witness the devastation following a natural disaster.
  • Although seemingly morbid and perhaps considered inappropriate by some, customers who purchase the tours say that this is the only way to understand the sheer scale of the catastrophe and visiting the site may generate an understanding of, and respect for, the forces of nature.
  • The town of Rikuzentakata in Japan was wiped out in the 2011 tsunami and is now a destination on the dark tourism map. A lone tree (the miracle pine) is the single sight to see there and tour groups spend time remembering those who were impacted by the event.
  • However there are concerns that there can be social impacts for locals who are still grieving and want to do so in private, rather than have an influx of tourists in their community and tour companies making a profit from their loss.

Implications and next steps: Perhaps the dark tourism market will prompt a greater understanding of the possible implications of climate change. This may translate into behaviour change or increased activism. However, whether this type of tourism is appropriate is highly contested and whether the industry does more good than harm remains to be seen.

The Japan Daily Press: http://tinyurl.com/nngerxh; New Environmentalist Magazine: http://tinyurl.com/om6xmrj