Disaster tourism is the act of traveling to a disaster area for pleasure, usually out of curiosity.
Destinations of dark tourism include castles and battlefields such as Culloden in Scotland and Bran Castle and Poienari Castle in Romania, former prisons such as Beaumaris Prison in Anglesey, Wales, the Jack the Ripper exhibition in the London Dungeon, sites of natural disasters or man made disasters, such as Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan, Chernobyl in Ukraine and the commercial activity at Ground Zero in New York one year after September 11, 2001. It also includes sites of human atrocities and genocide, such as the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia, the sites of the Jeju Uprising in South Korea and the Spirit Lake Internment Camp Centre near La Ferme, Quebec as an example of Canada's internment operations of 1914–1920.
On Bali "death and funeral rites have become commodified for tourism ..., where enterprising businesses begin arranging tourist vans and sell tickets as soon as they hear someone is dying." In the US, visitors can tour the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC "with an identity card which matches their age and gender with that of a name and photo of a real holocaust victim. Against a backdrop of video interpretation portraying killing squads in action, the pseudo holocaust victim enters a personal ID into monitors as they wander around the attraction to discover how their real-life counterpart is faring."
In late 2017, the online journal Current Issues in Dark Tourism Research was launched. The aim of the online journal is to bring affordable 'dark tourism' scholarship direct to students, researchers, and the media. The journal is unique in that it pays royalty fees to authors and, as a result, is a new model for contemporary academic publishing. Authors and scholars may submit their own related research for publication in the journal. A broad range of 'dark tourism and difficult heritage' research will be available in the journal, in the form of articles, case studies, and commentaries. The editor of the journal is Dr Philip Stone.Popular Mechanics published a list of "8 Disaster Tourism Sites," by Laura Kiniry, August 30, 2013, "for your next family vacation." They include:
1. Chernobyl Power Plant (site of the radioactive accident, April 26, 1986), in the restricted Chernobyl Exclusion Zone situated in the Ivankiv Raion of northern Kiev Oblast, near Ukraine's border with Belarus.
2. Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst (where the Hindenburg caught fire, May 6, 1937) Lakehurst, New Jersey.
3. Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (where 30 million gallons of oil leaked, March 24, 1989) Bligh Reef, Prince William Sound, Alaska.
4. Chelyabinsk Meteor (where it struck on February 15, 2014), Chelyabinsk, southern Urals; Lake Chebarkul; and Ilmen Reserve, Russia.
5. Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site (site of the tests in 1946-1958), Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean.
6. Hanford Site (built in 1943, decommissioned 1964-1971), Benton County, along the Columbia River, Washington State.
7. Hurricane Katrina (hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005), especially the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana.
8. Pompeii (due to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD), at the base of the volcano, Italy. Popular Mechanics calls it the "mother of all disaster tourism sites."
A couple other examinations of this phenomena include:
"The Disaster Tourist," by Kent Russell, Highline/HuffPost, January 25, 2018, about Otto Warmbier's terrible adventure that ended in his death via North Korea.
"JFK and dark tourism: A fascination with assassination" by Malcolm Foley and J. John Lennon, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2007, about three JFK assassination sites.