‘Dark tourism’ travel, which is not to say

After the recent TV series “Chernobyl” the popularity of tours to this place of ecological catastrophe skyrocketed. But even before the Chernobyl series dubbed “the pearl of Ukrainian tourism”, writes the BBC.

‘Темный туризм’: путешествия, о которых не принято говорить

Photo: Depositphotos

According to the Ministry of the environment, in 2018, the exclusion zone was visited by 63,000 people. This is almost eight times greater than it was five years ago.

Now, if you are a foreigner, a trip for one day will cost you a hundred dollars.

“Dead city” is not alone in its popularity. Travel to places of tragedies, genocides, imprisonment and disasters are referred to as “Dark tourism” (in the English language there are a number of synonyms — dark, black, grief tourism b etc.).

Although the term is quite young, the history of this phenomenon is very long: the massive Colosseum in Ancient Rome, when the audience came to see the deadly fights of gladiators, is such an event.

Distinguish tentolouris (concentration camp), necropoli tourism (cemeteries, for example the Lychakiv cemetery in Lviv or Pere Lachaise in Paris), tourism disasters (Chernobyl), mystical tourism (Stonehenge, Loch ness, occult places) and other areas.

There is a separate industry, which specializiruetsya on dark tourism. One of the areas — post-conflict areas, or those lands where now there is a war, for example, Somalia. Some firms carry tourists to North Korea or conflict of the post-Soviet territory, for example, Karabakh.

And here besides the question of ethics arises a problem of safety of travel for tourists.

Remember the story of an American student, Otto Bombara, who was part of a tour group visited the DPRK at the end of 2016. He was imprisoned for “committing a hostile act” against the country (an attempt to steal a propaganda poster from the hotel) and was sentenced to 15 years in labor camps.

Otto Warmbier in a coma in a North Korean prison. After 17 months of detention he was brought home in an unconscious condition, where he died.

Since then, the DPRK for Americans from countries not recommended for travel, turned into a country forbidden to visit without special permission from the state Department.

A very expensive tourism

Organized dark tourism is a very expensive tourist destination and these tours travel people from developed countries.

Who are they? Fans of grief? Those who are tired of the usual travel?

They can be those who “collects” countries, that is, wants to visit every country in the world.

English actor Dom Jolie, who in 2010 published the book “the Dark tourist” (The Dark Tourist: Sightseeing in the world’s most unlikely holiday destinations) said that it was dark tourism is a way to touch history.

Those who are interested in the question may even apply to the work of the Institute for the study of dark tourism (The Institute for Dark Tourism Research) at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. And supporters of Netflix can watch the new Zealand documentary film “Dark tourist” (Dark Tourist) 2018.

Popular destinations dark tourism

North Korea

The country opened its doors to tourists in the late 1980s and now it is visited by thousands of people a year.

The “pearl” of the North Korean tourism — the mausoleum of Kim Il sung and Kim Jong Il in the capital Pyongyang. Foreign tourists have access to the mausoleum twice a week, accompanied by local guides, provided by the government.

Memorial and September 11 Museum

Museum of the new York tragedy was built in 2014 in the crater of the destroyed twin towers of the world trade center.


A former Nazi concentration camp in Poland was transformed into a Museum in 1955. 2017 year the Museum was visited by over 2 million people.


In Rwanda there are several memory locations of the mass genocide of 1994, when, according to various estimates, killed between half a million and a million people.


Genocide Museum “Toolking” in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, was opened in 1980. The former school was a prison under the Khmer Rouge regime, where he was tortured and killed. The Museum maintains a huge photo archive of the then prisoners-victims of the regime.

Here is what Ukrainian travelers, who travel to “difficult” countries or regions where you do not set foot tourist draw than their post-conflict areas?

Oksana Loik traveler.

About Afghanistan and Pakistan:

I wouldn’t divide the world into countries the “black” and “white” of tourism. These phenomena are present in every country.

You can admire the “sleek” cities of Kazakhstan, and then to drive a hundred kilometers from the Kazakh and drinking tea brewed on the dung of almost red water.

You can wander in the garbage the streets of Kabul, and then to get into the areas of the city, where you know that “Afghanistan” and “luxury” — quite identical concepts.

You can admire the architectural wonders of the Emirates, and then be horrified by the conditions in which workers live visitors.

In my collection of the forty countries most — not too attractive to tourists. But of those that are considered a threat to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both me positively surprised.

I thought that I was going deaf in the dark Ages, and came to corny of a poor country (Afghanistan) and a country of striking contrasts (Pakistan). Never felt there fear and were fascinated by their tourist potential.

I don’t want to tell you how safe in Afghanistan and that everything disseminated by the media is legendary. No, it’s all true!

Just inside, everything looks completely different — Afghans living an ordinary routine life, and about all the attacks, and the rest of the world will learn from the TV.

Pakistan, despite the conservative image absolutely free country where you can afford and bare arms, and alcohol purchased at special points or from the local population, and cheerful revelry (in the absence of Nightclubs).

And despite all of these countries — not for everyone. To go there … no, do not have to be bold. But you need to forget everything you knew about them still strongly believe in people and humanity and be ready for adventure.

Konstantin Simonenko, the first Ukrainian, who visited all the countries of the world, Somalia.

To visit every country in the world was my initial goal and dream. All countries — this is all, including Syria, Somalia, Yemen. Ride in a dangerous country, I started it because I wanted to go there for the sake of realizing their dreams. Then he was into it, so to speak.

Visiting dangerous regions, for example, Somalia is not the sights or the beauty of nature, they are not here. It is completely unknown, deadly and full of adrenaline territory.

Imagine I was walking down the streets of the ruined city among the ruins of a once-good Italian estates, meet local dragged half-naked on the shoulders of tiger sharks… the Left and right of me were the gunmen in flip-flops and grenades in his belt. I felt like an astronaut.

But do not think that travelers who go to countries such crazy and fearless thrill-seekers. Such trips are very well prepared.

First of all, the study of the country: where is the danger zone where the relatively safe, when not to go, and when the country is relatively calm and you can take a chance. Always very carefully choose the host that will accompany me, and which I, in fact, trust their lives.

Usually I use the recommendations of friends professional travelers that were already in the country and uses the services of local guides.

Svetlana Slavskaya, journalist, author of books on Turkey, “Crescent, cross and a peacock. Travels in Mesopotamia,” of Turkish Kurdistan.

The first time I was in Eastern Turkey (this region is also called Turkish Kurdistan) in 2013, and once — in Diyarbakir, the unofficial Kurdish capital.

Just then there was a period of warming relations between the Kurds and Turkey and I spent a lot in the old city of Diyarbakir, walking narrow streets, watching as children played and greeted the women who were sitting on the thresholds of houses or bake bread in ovens on the street, in two languages — Kurdish and Turkish.

This old town is badly damaged after a few years, when the conflict escalated again.

Travel was safe — my colleagues and volunteers and I traveled a lot hitchhiking, people were generally happy to see foreigners, because it is not very touristy regions, there is no fatigue from tourists and there are still a number of schemes how to make money on you.

But in the whole of Turkey there is a good bus service, so hitchhiking is not the only way there is to move.

Diyarbakir, Mardin, Antakiya, van, Istanbul and other regions East and South of Gaziantep attract people who are looking for heritage and architecture, or who just want to meet people and see how they live.

Dasha Nepochatova, co-founder of Creative Women’s Space, on the National memorial and Museum of September 11 in new York

September 11, 2001, the day when the attack occurred in new York, I worked in the UK in the training centre of the British organization of girl guides and together we saw the fall of the twin towers live.

That day forever left a mark in my heart. To go to the scene of the tragedy became my dream.

The first time I got to new York 16 years after the tragedy. I did not like this city for its continued noise and the crowd.

But, surprisingly, I found a place where I felt good: ground zero — part of lower Manhattan where stood the twin towers of the world trade center.

It is a place of peace created by fear. Place of silence, born of noise. It all affects the collective contact with death. I started coming back here again and again. Ground zero has become my place of power.

It is a Museum, where it is impossible to move quickly, because in addition to visual information, it huge layers of psychological information that we read with the whole body unconscious.

In addition, the Museum tells about one of the huge tragedies of XXI century, he shows how Americans lived the Heartbreak of losing loved ones and friends.

Vladislav Romanovich, traveler, Syria and Pakistan

I wanted to visit Syria and Pakistan to see the many local historical monuments, and because the interest in events in the world. Wanted to see how it really is, not from the TV screen, and saw that it’s two different pictures.

Syria, where I was twice (2018 and 2019), just over a year, healed many of their wounds, especially in the eye catches the infrastructure and new buildings. Peace returning to the city.

For me Pakistan is the country with the most hospitable people in the world. Yes, people live a wealthy life, but do their best to show their country. Polite, educated, friendly. Almost everyone knows English, which surprised me.

In the media stories about these countries show, in terms of danger, of war, of terror, but the reality is somewhat different.

Street crime in Syria or Pakistan is almost zero. And to imagine that someone will steal your phone or money, or raise a hand to a guest, even at the level of fantasy. I quietly left my backpack with MacBook and phone in Aleppo and Lahore and no one even looked at him.

Daria Antsibor, folkloristica and traveler, the culture of memory

Places associated with a particular traumatic or tragic experiences interest me for many reasons, starting with the historical, ending with the purely practical.


I wonder what museums are doing in order not just to convey historical material, but also compel visitors to truly understand the horror of the tragedy.

For example, in “Auschwitz,” I’ve been twice and the experience was totally different. There are organised excursions. The first time the guide is focused on the picture of the everyday life of the prisoners, she recounted memories of life in the barracks, with all the nuances of nutrition, sanitation and the like. And it made a great impression upon me.

The second time the tour guide talked more about statistics, tried to show all the fear of the tragedy. But our brain is not able to understand what the 3000 or 30000 dead. He only realizes that a lot.

And just so for me, visiting memorials and other memorial places is a way to feel and sympathize. And at the same time to analyze how this experience could be used in Ukraine.