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Dark Tourism: Why It’s Fine To Visit Disaster Zones On Holiday

Travelers Today       By    Elyssa Deluyas

Updated: Oct 12, 2016 08:52 AM EDT

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Most people would think of the significance of history, hence, they would ask: "Why would I be bothered about history? It's just old stuff."

This is an excellent opportunity to begin arguing about what is known as "disaster tourism". Laura Chubb of Independent suggests that being interested in history is fairly essential: how can you learn from past mistakes if you don't know about them?

In a year that marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the appetite for disaster tourism shows no signs of abating. According to Dailymail, the unofficial tours of the Fukushima exclusion zone are attracting tens of thousands of visitors, compares to last year's Hurricane Katrina bus tour was the best-seller.

However, "disaster tourism" needs to implement some rules. Independent said that there should be a marked difference between confronting and trivializing a tragedy. The attitude and timing should also be considered when talking about "disaster tourism."

Moreover, there is a need to be sensitive too because some of the survivors of unfortunate events are still living within the vicinity. That is why, people should ask themselves what or who is profiting from their visit.

So, yes, where to draw the line with disaster tourism is and always will be contentious. Because of this, Independent tried to decide the rights and wrongs of some of the world's biggest dark tourism sites.

Is it okay to go to...Hiroshima, Japan?

Yes. Paying a visit to modern-day Hiroshima will not be a ghoulish experience. It is not really a ghost town, but a pleasantly busy city filled with leafy boulevards and buzzy restaurants, it's a fine example of moving on from a traumatic past without forgetting it. People also pay their respect at cenotaphs and monuments in serene, sculpted gardens. Hall of Remembrance, on the other hand, offers a panorama of the city's destruction created from 140,000 tiles - each tile representing a death.

Is it okay to go to... The Killing Fields, Cambodia?

Yes. It's disturbing. But a stop at The Killing Fields at Choeung Ek, near the capital of Phnom Penh, is a small but important gesture at trying to understand the enormity of Pol Pot's genocide, that killed off about 25 per cent of Cambodia's population.

Is it okay to go to... The Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans?

Sort of. During and after Hurricane Katrina, the Lower Ninth Ward suffered catastrophic flooding and remains a scene of desolation, its abandoned homes and empty lots representing the tragedy still remains here.

Is it okay to go to... Ground Zero, Manhattan?

Yes. The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened 13 years after the attacks on the World Trade Centre. Visiting here forces one to confront the human realities behind video footage which is very popular that it almost plays like a Hollywood movie, too unreal to believe.

Is it okay to go to... Auschwitz, Poland?

Yes. Similarly, if the aim is to try and learn from history, people have to face it. Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazis' concentration camps and is considered to be the site of the largest mass murder in a single location in human history.

Is it okay to go to... Chernobyl, Ukraine?

Probably not. The meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 is recognized as the worst nuclear accident in history, leaking at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped in Japan 41 years before. Even though tour companies say that it is safe to visit, the long-term effects of the radiation leak are still being investigated, and officials have recommended the area will not be inhabitable for thousands of years.

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

Tags
Dark Tourism , auschwitz , Poland , Ground Zero , manhattan , The Lower Ninth Ward , new orleans , The Killing Fields , cambodia , Chernobyl
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