Dark Tourism has become increasingly popular in the last few decades. Also known as grief tourism, dark tourism involves travel to places of great tragedy or death. With the rise of ghost-hunting television shows or any number of video websites looking for the shock factor for jaded audiences, it’s no wonder many individuals search out old concentration camps or the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
In the 1990s, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Herzegovina were sites of large-scale death and tragedy. The Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered in acts of genocide. The movie “Hotel Rwanda” is in the setting of the conflict, and much like “Schindler’s List”, the manager of the posh hotel was trying to save the lives of his people. Now, it’s nothing more than a tourist attraction, a photo opportunity. So much pain and history in the culture of the people of Rwanda, and some of their war-time landmarks are being exploited for tourism.
Tourism is big business, especially for smaller countries. With an influx of tourists comes an influx of money. There is an upswing of casinos in the larger Rwandan cities, allowing a flow of cash. Even the rise of online casino slots allow more money to be pumped into failing economies. With this up-tick in money flow through casinos, online casino slots, and tourism, the Rwandan economy has seen growth and structuring in the past years.
The tourism, however dark, brings millions to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Auschwitz in Germany, the Killing Fields in Cambodia, and through all of this, each economy has seen a swell.
The issue can be problematic, to thrive off the pain of a nation. To take a powerful moment in time and turn a profit. Can it be said that tourism means more to a country’s economy than the genocide memorial might to those that’s affected?
Sure, it’s possible, but at the same time, these economies are flourishing and gaining traction by being on the “genocide tourism” map. Attracting larger businesses and franchises means it can bolster the market, and give better access to healthcare or schooling that some small countries can’t afford.
Through tourism, businesses like casinos, online casino slots, resorts, and larger chain stores can be welcomed into a community. No matter how you look at it, dark tourism has its place in society, even if the idea might seem crass. As thinking, feeling beings, we are drawn to places of sorrow, to mourn those we might not have known, to experience pieces of living history, to connect across time and space.