Young Pioneer Tours

The difference between Dark Tourism and War Tourism

We have often been portrayed as purveyors of dark tourism, this is not something that bothers us and in fact we embrace the term, but are we as I was recently asked providing war tourism? Lets take a delve.

What is Dark Tourism?

We won’t go into too much detail here as it is better answered in our much longer and in depth post, but dark tourism depends mostly on the eye of the beholder. Chernobyl counts by almost every metric, as would places such as visiting the grave of Pol Pot, but here is where the irony lies.

To read about Dark Tourism click here.

If you visit Auschwitz or S-21 then most do not consider it dark tourism, even though bot are pretty damned dark and with the later at least it is very much linked to the Pol Pot regime. This is where the question of where paying your respects type tourism and dark tourism hit into some very blurry lines.

Visit Chernobyl

To read the constitution of Democratic Kampuchea click here

And do not even get me started on places like Machu Pichu where you will see elephant many wearing backpackers meditating exactly on the spot where one of the most brutal regimes the world has ever known sacrificed people e-masse. 

What is war tourism?

War tourism is exactly what it sounds, it is visiting a country that is at war and not for humanitarian reasons. Some have opined this is for adrenalin junkies, those with morbid tastes, voyeurs and the rest of it.

The site at the entrance of the Anlong Veng Peace Center a historical site of Cambodia

We won’t comment too much on this as we do not do war tourism, but this is also an area that is very very grey. How long does war have to stop before it become historical war tourism rather an actual conflict tourism?  And what about frozen conflict zones?

Frozen conflict zones and conflict tourism

Some of the most important places that we visit are frozen-inflict zones with examples including Transnistria, South Ossetia, Somaliand and Nagorno-Karabakh, mots of which came about circa the end of the USSR.

International Tours from Young Pioneer Tours

These have all been at war, but are now officially at least in a frozen state. The problem is that at least with a few of these the cold wars have indeed become rather hot. And of course if you happen to be there when it becomes hot than it is in effect war tourism, a factor that has also occurred with travel to Afghanistan recently.

Can War Tourism be OK?

So again, while generally speaking we do not do, nor promote war tourism there are other examples in which we do embrace, such as Libya and Syria both of which are still at war, but places in which we at least stay in the safer parts of the country. 

War Tourism

Another middle-ground, but also another area where we feel the good far outweighs the bad. And this is certainly something our local partners fully agree with. 

When you have been through war and destruction aside from a semblance of normality what people are also looking for is money again coming back into their countries and communities. 

And then what about Ukraine? It is amazing how many things regarding Ukraine have changed or even warped peoples perceptions on what is now wrong, or right. Of course we will avoid a political tirade here, but we have to admit we were very close to resuming tours to Kiev a few months ago, at least until the missile strikes started again.

Of course had we have done this we would have had the usual same quarters accusing of profiteering, war tourism, or worse, but in actuality it was our Ukrainian partners that have reached out to us to resume tourism. 

Their reasons are of course multifaceted, but primarily it is about jumpstarting their economy, giving people the chance to work and to some extent feel normal again. But something we would probably have been criticised for and most likely from the same people who feel putting a little flag in their FB profile is actually helping the war effort…..

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