The Business of Dark Tourism: The Management of Dark Tourism Visitor Sites and Attractions with Special Reference to Innovation
Poade, Donna Maria
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To pursue publication of this research
This study explores the management of visitor sites and attractions associated with death, disaster and suffering, commonly referred to in the literature as ‘dark tourism’. Although gaining increasing academic attention, the supply-side perspective of dark tourism is poorly understood with scarce empirical evidence relating to management operations and practices. This may be due to management operations and practices that are perceived to conflict with the sensitive themes of visitor sites associated with dark tourism. Particular consideration is given to the management concept of innovation identified as a significant gap for scholarly exploration. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were carried out with senior management at 23 sites and attractions across the United Kingdom associated with dark tourism. The findings reveal that, contrary to suggestions that dark tourism sites may be restrictive in management practices, a wide array of innovative activities and marketing practices are widely conducted and innovation was viewed as a stimuli for repeat visitation. Furthermore, management operations are viewed as facilitating important stories of trauma for present and future generations. Omission of these stories would belittle the tragic circumstances in which people associated with the sites had died or suffered. Moreover, managers at dark tourism sites acknowledged the ethical and moral tensions surrounding management practices at dark tourism sites. Indeed, the majority of managers adopted both highly ethical processes resulting in ethical innovations and complex consultation processes in order to mitigate any potential concerns from stakeholders. The ethical stance underpinning operations positions the phenomenon of dark tourism as a subset within the tourism sector, distinct from its counterparts. Recommendations include calls to widen the study to explore visitor perceptions of innovative measures undertaken by managers, and to focus on specific commercial aspects, such as retailing, within the business of dark tourism.
PhD in Management Studies