Purpose: The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the lighter (entertainment and esthetic experiences) and darker sides (educational and escapist experiences) of dark tourism experiences. This study also examines the effect of lighter and darker sides of dark tourism experiences on functional and emotional value. Design/methodology/approach: To investigate how and where visitors experience lighter and darker sides of dark tourism, the authors conducted in-depth interviews from visitors to the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ). To demonstrate consequences of lighter and darker sides of dark tourism experiences on functional and emotional value, the authors collected field survey data. Taken together, the authors used mixed methods with exploratory sequential design. Findings: Interviewees vividly described their entertainment (crossing the suspension bridge) and esthetic experiences (seeing a family of crane birds from a short distance) in the Korean DMZ. They also described educational (understanding the background of the civil war) and escapist experiences (limiting daily entries made them feel like they were entering a special place or even a foreign country). Survey results showed that educational and esthetic experiences increased emotional value, while educational and escapist experiences enhanced functional value of a tour of the Korean DMZ. Originality/value: Previous research operationalized lighter and darker sides of dark tourism based on characteristics of dark tourism sites. Specifically, darker and lighter aspects of dark tourism were determined, depending on whether such sites are directly related to human death or not. However, the current study draws on tourist experiences to operationalize lighter and darker sides of dark tourism. While previous research focused on the supply side, this study shifts focus to the demand side, thereby advancing knowledge in hybrid dark tourism experiences.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2022|
- Dark tourism
- Experience economy
- Mixed methods
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management