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Special Interest Tourism And Heritage Tourism Tourism Essay

“Special interest tourism can be defined as the provision of customized leisure and recreational experiences driven by the specific expressed interests of individual and group”. (Douglas.N, 2001)

In earlier days tourism word was termed as mass tourism.””Mass tourism was the logical outcome of key social, economic, political and technological influences after the Second World War. Post-war was peace and prosperity, paid holidays, charter flights and cheap oil lubricated the wheels of tourism change” (Po on – 1993, pg 4).

According to Poon( 1997) “new tourism is a phenomenon of large scale packaging of non-standardized leisure services at competitive prices to suit demands of tourists as well as the economic and socio-environmental needs of destinations”. Large scale packaging has been done by tour operators, airlines and multinational hotel groups who hold significant influence towards political economics of destinations and host communities all over the world.

Special Interest tourism as defined by world tourism organization “specialized tourism involves group or individual tours by people who wish to develop certain interest and visit sites and places connected with a specific subject. Generally speaking, the people concerned exercise the same profession or have a common hobby “Special interest tourism activity includes wide variety urban, regional, well-established and newly emerging contexts. New tourism is a phenomenon of large scale packaging of non-standardized leisure service at competitive price to suit demands of tourism as well as the economic and socio­-environmental needs of destinations”. (Poon,1997)

Question 2: – How according to Douglas (2001), might this product be described as being complex? Author has chosen Heritage tourism as a product of special interest tourism. “Heritage tourism is important for various reasons first of all it has a positive economic and social impact and helps the locals to preserve their historical monuments, museums, canals etc. And according to the study made travelers spend more money and stay more then other type of tourism”

As per Douglas “special interest tourism is a complex phenomenon characterized by flexible delivery, market segmentation and advances in technology affecting management and distribution”. (Douglas-2001, pg3).

Douglas termed it as a complex phenomenon. It might because of its effect on the current market trend and scenario or it might because of its effect on the communities who deliver the special interest tourism products.

This complexity is directly linked with the communities who deliver SIT products. This complexity can be better understood by explaination by Douglas (2001) Douglas says – “The search for new experiences threatens current investment and provides alternative stresses on infrastructure like roads, transport systems, existing technology and accommodation, and access to sensitive natural locations. Both public and private sectors see problems with small-scale, personalized tourism traffic. ” (Douglas-200 1, pg 5).

“With increasing complexities in one’s life these days, people are perpetually looking for a medium through which they get some peace of mind. This is where another science, that of meditation and spirituality comes into the scene. Meditation and Yoga are synonymous with India and Indian spirituality. Meditation is one of the most important components of Yoga, which is a mind-body therapy involving a series of exercises”. Question 3: – Identify the reason for the growth of your example of SIT. Link your discussion to factors such as trends in consumer behavior and tourism industry’s search for competitive advantage? The reason for the growth of heritage tourism is nothing but it’s the changing trend in the consumers taste. From mass tourism it is very specific segment of the tourism who wants to explore the historical aspect of the monuments etc.

“Heritage tourism basically attracts consumers which are really willing to know country’s historical events, battles, monuments etc. The reason for the growth of heritage tourism is increased leisure activities, high consumers. Educational tours has been organized by various institutes to heritage attractions, to encourage their students to learn more about their country past instead of reading these historical buildings, monuments on books. Media promoting the growth of heritage tourism through televisions worldwide and encouraging more

The dark tourism

Tourism Assignment Help Presentation of the Problem

Tourism covers numerous forms of travel and a broad range of destinations. Dark Tourism describes a niche type of tourism which covers the visitation of places where tragedies or historically noteworthy deaths have occurred of institutions dealing with the heritage of humanity (Tarlow, 2005). Especially in the last decades, dark tourism has become seemingly more popular and has received more attention (Stone, 2009). Foley and Lennon (1999) state that tourism associated with sites of death is registering a rapid growth. Smith (1996) found in her research on war and tourism that the memorabilia of warfare and allied products probably forms the largest single category of tourist attractions in the world, despite the tragedies and dissuasive incidents which have happened there. One of the earliest examples of dark tourist sites in the beginning of the 19th century was a jailhouse in the United States of America, which received public interest because of its architectural innovations and novel practices (Stone, 2009).

Meanwhile, visiting sites of death and disaster has developed into a worldwide phenomenon. But the demand for dark tourism spots is versatile. Beside the matter of death, interest in culture, history or simply the desire for entertainment are possible reasons why millions of people are visiting places of dark tourism (Stone, 2006). Despite an increasing amount of studies on the topic (Seaton, 1996; Lennon and Foley, 2000; Sharpley and Stone, 2009) there is still a lack of understanding what actually motivates humans to visit sites of dark tourism and to engage themselves with the topics of death, disaster and genocide. Due to the fact that dark tourism is a growing form of tourism, it is necessary to understand why people are motivated to visit places where other people have suffered.

Aims of the Bachelor Thesis

The purpose of this study is to identify the motives of visitors visiting former battlefields where historically important battles have been fought. This study will give a better, theoretically informed understanding of tourist motivation and its role in the decision making process. The following questions will be examined in regards to this topic:

Which push factors play a role in visitors´ motivation to battlefields?

Which pull factors play a role in visitors´ motivation?

What role do particularly level of education, interest in history, media and personal connection play in visitors´ motivation?

Which other visitor motives influence the decision to visit battlefields?


Structure of the Thesis

This Bachelor Thesis is divided into a theoretical and an empirical part. The goal of the theoretical part is to provide and explain the theories, terms and definitions used in this study to form a thorough literature review to review literature for designing the research and interpreting the findings.

Dark Tourism

Definition of Dark Tourism

Lennon and Foley described the term dark tourism as “…the phenomenon which encompasses the presentation and consumption (by visitors) of real and commodified death and disaster sites” (1996:198). An example of very early forms of dark tourism would be the gladiatorial games of the Roman area or public executions in medieval age (Stone, 2009). Boorstin (1964, in Stone 2009) states that the first organised tour in England in 1838 was a trip by train to witness the hanging of two murderers.

Dark tourism sites and attractions are not only becoming more and more popular (Sharpley, 2005) but also vary enormously in their presentation of death. They reach from jocular houses of horror, over death sites of famous people to places of mass murder like the Holocaust death camps. Seaton (1996) cites a number of attractions, including the battlefield of Waterloo and the buried city of Pompeii; the latter is said to be the greatest and most famous thanatoptic travel destination of the Romantic period (Seaton, 1996).

In contrast to Stone, Seaton prefers using the definition “thanatourism” instead of dark tourism. He describes thanatourism as being the “…travel to a location wholly, or partially, motivated by the desire for actual or symbolic encounters with death, particularly, but not exclusively, violent death, which may, to a varying degree be activated by the person-specific features of those whose deaths are its focal objects” (1996:240). This would mean that people, travelling to dark sites, are active going there in order to experience the aura of such places. In addition to this, he believes that thanatourism is defined by the consumer’s motives and that individual traveler motivation do play a role in this kind of tourism.

Another definition synced with dark tourism is the term “black spots”, which are “…commercial developments of grave sites and sites in which celebrities or large numbers of peoples have met with sudden and violent deaths” (Rojek, 1993:136). Rojek shows three different examples of Black Spots – the anniversary of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s murder in Dallas, Texas, the annual candlelight vigil in memory of Elvis Presley and the annual pilgrimage to the part of the Californian highway where James Dean died in a car crash.

Both the expressions “dark tourism” and “thanatourism” will be used in this research, because they have the same meaning, but are differently interpreted. Thanatourism is based on the motivational aspect, while dark tourism is attraction respectively location based. In contrast, black spots are a parts of the dark tourism spectrum and rather describe places of sudden and violent death. In this case, cemeteries would not be part of black spot sites. Seatons interpretation will be used in the following study. As I am investigating motives of people visiting dark tourist sites, I adopt the definition of Seaton because it is more detailed and better understandable than the definitions of Rojek, Lennon and Foley. Furthermore the definition fits better as motivational perspective.

Categorisation of dark tourism

Dark tourism is, in its various forms, multi-faceted, multi tiered and exists in a variety of social, cultural, geographical and political contexts (Stone, 2009). A full categorisation of all death-related attractions is very complex and difficult. Furthermore, in contrast to Foley and Lennon, Seaton (2006) states that thanatourism works on coherence between two elements: first, if the traveler has only one or more motives to visit a place of death, and secondly, the extend to which the interest in death is person-centered or scale-of-death centered.

Referring to Figure 1, it can be concluded that people visiting sites of death, for example a battlefield or a prison where a relative has died or has suffered, have a weak thanatourism element in their motivation. The interest in death is person-centered because this is the purpose of visit in the first instance. In contrast, people who are visiting the same sights but have no relatives or friends which might have suffered there, show a strong thanatourism element. They are interested in death itself and are fascinated by those sights.

Dark tourism supply and demand

It is obvious that people have long been attracted to places of death and disaster. In terms of supply, there has been a rapid growth in the provision of such attractions or experiences; indeed, there appears to be an increasing number of people keen to profit from places of death as tourist attractions, such as a farmer in Pennsylvania who offered a tour of the crash site of the United Airlines Flight 93 – one of the 9/11 aircraft (Bly, 2003). Marcel (2004) recognised that there is a huge range and diversity of dark tourism supply when she examined whether “death makes a holiday”, and denoted that dark tourism is a part of the tourism phenomenon and called it “dirty little secret”.

In order to investigate the phenomenon of consumer demand of dark tourist sites, it is necessary to examine the topic both from the supply and demand perspective. As Seaton (1996) believes, “dark tourism is essentially a behavioral phenomenon, defined by tourist’ motives as opposed to particular characteristics of a site or attraction”. To construct any framework, both demand and supply needs to be taken into consideration.

For Foley and Lennon, dark tourism is a temporally, basically western phenomenon “based upon non-purposeful visits due to serendipity, the itinerary of tour companies or the merely curious who happen to be in the vicinity” (2000:23). Therewith, in the two researcher’s opinion, dark tourism demand is created unintentionally and is now part of tour companies’ programs, with the objective to make money by getting tourists to a “dark” area which is located close to the routes. In this case, the researchers strongly declare that dark tourism is supply-driven. Due to the question whether people coincidentally come across dark tourist sites, as Foley and Lennon (2000) believe, this topic has to be considered critically.

It has to be mentioned that demand and supply are dynamic and always changing. For example, London Dungeon has always exposed horrifying and gory sculptures. These exhibits were the main reason why people came to visit this place. If the management would decide to remove the electric chair, the demand would decrease rapidly (Sharpley, 2009).

It is still unclear whether thanatourism is still getting more and more popular because of the increasing amount and diversity of attractions, or because of the growing interest of people looking for the macabre and frightening (West, 2004). According to Sharpley (2009), there exists a ‘continuum of purpose’ of supply of dark tourism sites or experiences. He believes that there are tourist attractions which have become dark tourist sites ‘by accident’ and places which are directly intended to make profit. Figure 2 shows the four ‘shades’ of tourism, reaching from ‘pale’ to ‘black’ tourism.

According to Sharpley (2009), the four shades of dark tourism are devided into four categories. Tourists with a low interest in in death and who are visiting sites which are unintended to be tourist attractions are “pale tourists”. Its oposite would summarise people with a high fascination with death and visiting dark tourist sites on purpose. This kind of dark tourism is referred as “the darkest tourism possible”. Concerning supply and demand, tourists with fascination with death but visiting unintendet dark tourism sites are demanding grey tourism. Grey tourism supply would delineate sites which are intentionally established to exploit death, attracting visitor with only a minor interest in death.

Battlefield tourism

Battlefield tourism refers to the visitation to sites associated with warfare. These include locations like battlefields, memorials or military graves as well as museums and other structures that commemorate wars, battles and associated events or atrocities (Seaton, 1999). Places like these have attracted tourists from all over the world for more than thousand years. Alexander the Great was one of the first known battlefield tourists, when he visited the Tomb of Achilles and ancient Troy during his invasion of Asia (Wilcken, 1967). Battlefield tourism increased significantly during the last century, which could be ascribed to the growing number of military conflicts since the early 1900s and more generally, the continuing growth of tourism (Sharpley, 2009). Especially the time after the First World War represented a turning point in the history of battlefield tourism. Visits to battlefield sites like Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte’s last battle near Brussels in 1815, started to become more and more popular (Lloyd, 1998).

The ongoing search by the tourism industry for new attractions has created a very relevant tourism phenomenon around battlefield tourism (Ryan, 2007). The paradox of a site of battle or war is that visitors are able to move around freely on a once unsafe place where many people have lost their lives. Considering the macabre and abhorrent atmosphere which is radiated by place of war, it is remarkable that some tourists are accepting a long journey in order to get impressed by a site of war, express gladness or even experience sadness.

Battlefield Tours

For a battlefield tour visitor, a battlefield tour has the purpose of understanding what happened and why (Sharpley, 2006). Therefore it can be concluded that tourists belonging to this form of visitation are primary interested in history and the very details of the battle. Even pictures, closest studies and primary sources can not describe the atmosphere of a place where fights have taken place. For example, it is necessary to stand at the beach of Ford Island, Hawaii, to understand how the feeling must have been when the Japanese striking force, consisting of 400 warplanes, attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7 in 1941. With a little bit of imagination, the visitor can see through the eyes of the soldier, although the site may have changed over the years.

To go into more detail and to figure out why tourists visit battlefields, it is important to distinguish between the types of visitation. In order to categorise the survey in Chapter …, categories of visitations have been pointed out and confronted in pairs: Are the tourists visiting battlefields as a part of an organised tour or are they individual visitors? Do visitors have a weak or a strong thanatoursim element in their motivation? Did people come to battelfield sites voluntarily (Leisure visitors) or have they been “invited” as part of a company outing or an advanced training course (Business/Educational visitors)?


Battlefield pilgrimages can be defined as “the travelling for remembrance with the focus on the spiritual and emotional experience of visiting graves and memorials” (Stone, 2009:194). Beside veterans, immediate family members may also visit a battlefield for remembrance. For example, when death was the reason why a couple’s marriage ended, it can be very important for the personal healing process of the widow to visit the battlefield where her husband died or the grave where he is buried. In these cases again, a weak thanatoursim element is perceptible beacause the dead are know and the interest in death is person-centred.

But not only immediate relatives have a spiritual relationship to family members who died in war. Also children, whose grandfather lost his life in a battle, can show their pride of having a great warrior. Furthermore, travelling together in a group to a battlefield can be major social event, such as an anniversary. A pilgrimage can also encourage conversations between generations which might not happen anywhere else.

Types of Battlefield visitors

Leisure visitors

According to a survey commissioned by the Royal British Legion in 2006 (based upon a sample of 1000 respondents across the United Kingdom) leisure visitors are the majority of modern tourists at battlefields (Stone, 2009). These visitors show a strong interest in history, especially military history. This popular interest arose from a fascination with the soldier and the battle, due to the fact that the proportion of the population who is serving in the military is diminishing (Holmes, 2006). Another reason for the increasing interest in soldiers could be popular films like Inglorious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino, USA 2009. Depending if leisure visitors travel to battlefield sites on their own or as part of tours, they can either show a high interest (or thanaourism element) in death and disaster or just regard them as side trips of the whole tour being unconcerned with dark tourism.

Educational Visits and Visits by the Military

Visits to battlefields, if procurable, are undertaken by schools and other educational establishments. An opportunity is given to young people and students to understand the background and context of topics learned at school or university. Educational visits to battlefields differ from general leisure visits in points of learning objectives and the chance to provide support for certain parts of the national curriculum (Sharpley, 2006). Furthermore, teachers with personal interests in military history are able to share their enthusiasm and can provoke some thoughts about morality in their student’s minds, which is also an important part of education.

Members of the Armed Forces, who view the battlefield as part of the future, also belong to the category of educational visitors. The British Armed Forces use battlefields for tactical training and study (Ryan, 2007), leadership lessons and planning how modern troops would operate on the same ground. Non-military organisations in the United Kingdom, like Corporate Battlefields and Business Battlefields are also using battlefields for leadership or management development programs. People participating in such events are thought to learn from the lessons in history and build effective leading teams to increase business performance. Often, members of such excursion are forced to participate and cannot afford to decline in order to keep their jobs. Therefore it can be concluded that, educational visits, are not “voluntarily” by the majority.


Even if this is just a small part of battlefield tour visitors, some veterans still have the desire to visit once more the place where they have fought, to re-experience the place, maybe for the last time in their lives. Some of them make themselves available for tours to narrate their stories to other visitors, who get the chance to get a better and very authentic presentation of the site. Others simply want to understand what happened or the significance of their own role when they fought a war (Stone, 2009). It can be assumed that, for these kind of visitors and according to Seatons (1996) Thanatoursim continuum, there is no specific interest in death and desaster observable.

Tourist Motivation

Tourist motivation can be defined “as the global integrating network of biological and cultural forces which gives value and direction to travel choices, behavior and experience” (Pearce, Morrison