Dark Tourism: An Exciting Adventure For The Morbidly Curious

Dark Tourism: An Exciting Adventure For The Morbidly Curious

Death, let's face it, sells. A growing number of "dark tourism" or "thanotourism" options are emerging for tourists who want to take their vacations down a notch or two, whether it's a tour of a former Nazi concentration camp detailing the horrors of the Hitler era or a stroll through the Hollywood hills retracing the steps of the Manson Family murders. The creator of Dearly Departed Tours in Los Angeles, Scott Michaels, claims that "people have always been drawn to the awful." For almost 15 years, the business has been providing a few celebrity murder tours.

Of course, it can't be terrible for business to see one of those killings on the big screen. Michaels provided advice for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," director Quentin Tarantino's homage to the classic film industry. It is told through a somewhat updated account of the horrific encounter between the Manson Family and actress Sharon Tate at the Los Angeles residence she shared with filmmaker Roman Polanski. Michaels and the members of Dearly Departed have benefited greatly from the popularity of that movie in terms of increased interest in their Helter Skelter tour. They aren't the only ones who engage in dark tourism.


Hiroshima experienced the fastest death toll of any mass murder in history. And while the city serves as a symbol of the worst of humankind's treatment of one another, the gloomy tourism attractions that draw millions of tourists to Hiroshima every year are mostly focused on teaching in the hope of a peaceful future for all of humanity. Visitors can go to the A-Bomb Dome, which serves as a somber reminder of the catastrophe that contributed to the conclusion of World War II, as well as the Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

The old Nazi concentration camp in Owicim, Germany, receives more than 1 million visitors annually. Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, was initially constructed as a place of confinement for Polish Jews following Germany's annexation of the nation in 1939. During the five years the camp was in use, Hitler's soldiers held as many as 60,000 primarily Jewish captives there at once. Auschwitz now operates as a museum and educational facility dedicated to the victims of Hitler. Tours are available in 19 languages from around 300 professional guides. Along with an art gallery featuring works inspired by prisoners and death camps, there is a history archive with documents and images for educational purposes.


Thanks to media, more tourists are paying attention to the location of the biggest nuclear disaster in history. A renewed interest in visiting the location has been sparked by the HBO documentary series about the catastrophic disaster, in which radioactive material was released into the atmosphere for nine continuous days. In the three decades following the accident, a 19-mile exclusion zone has been largely closed off to tourists. The Ukrainian government now wants to designate it as a recognized tourist destination. Plans for a "green zone" for guests are also included. Officials in government have a tough job ahead of them. According to some experts, the site is still covered in radioactive waste, which could be hazardous to anyone who comes into contact with it.

Khmer Rouge Killing Fields

Even though the Marxist Khmer Rouge briefly dominated Cambodia for four years in the late 1970s, during that time 2 million people died from homicide, starvation, and disease. The majority of the genocide was committed by the dictatorship in and around Phnom Penh, where mass graves held the bodies of the victims. The largest of the fields, Choeung Ek, which is located just outside the capital city, now serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives and a somber reminder of atrocities that took place about 40 years ago. In order to prevent history from repeating itself, it is also intended to serve as a teaching tool. Today, about 800 individuals each day visit the killing grounds, causing disturbances and disobeying the laws banning photography and urging silence.

Helter Skelter in Beverly Hills

Charles Manson was the leader of a quasi-cult commonly referred to as the Manson Family, a group of mostly female misfits and hippies in Southern California. Four members of the group broke into Tate and Polanski's Los Angeles home on Aug. 9, 1969, where they murdered the actress and four others. A gang of largely female misfits and hippies in Southern California known as the Manson Family, a quasi-cult, was led by Charles Manson. On August 9, 1969, four members of the organization came into Tate and Polanski's Los Angeles home and killed the actress and four other people. Even though the Beverly Hills house was demolished in 1994 and has since been replaced by a new home, it was for a long time a popular location for shady tourists seeking thrills. The Dearly Departed tour recounts the tale of the victims, their brutal killings, and their murders. It might also alter how some people view Manson, who is widely thought to have planned the murders as part of his strange plan for a race war he called "Helter Skelter."

Murambi Technical School

1994 saw a genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group that resulted in the deaths of up to 1 million Rwandans over the course of a little over three months. The murders were planned by the Hutu cultural elite and occurred after President Juvénal Habyarimana was killed. It was a battle for national dominance that wasn't over until a Tutsi rebel group overthrew the government. The Murambi Technical School, located in the hills outside of Butare, the second-largest city in Rwanda, was originally used as a haven for Tutsis who were fleeing their homeland. It turns out that they were brought there in anticipation of a huge killing. Eventually, there was a raid on the school, which resulted in almost 45,000 deaths. Since then, the school has been transformed into a genocide museum that chronicles Rwanda's history, its civil war, and the horrifying massacre of an ethnic group.