Assessing dark tourism as a sustainable economic activity for emerging destinations using a multi criteria approach

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The tourism industry only started to be considered as an economic activity in 1911 (Scutariu, 2009). The reasons why people have been travelling and are still travelling to certain places are for sport and leisure; culture; Visiting Friends and Relatives; business; health; religion; education (Barrow, 2008). These different reasons contribute to the branding of some destinations by visitors and potential visitors. On that basis, it is legitimate to wonder whether being branded as a dark tourism destination can be economically (and socially) profitable for emerging tourist destinations. In order to address this question, a qualitative approach based on Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), a general term for methods providing a quantitative approach to support decision making in problems involving several criteria and choices (Botti & Peypoch, 2013: 109) was adopted. Botti and Peypock (2013) also explained that to understand the competitiveness of a tourist destination, MCDA is a relevant tool as this method takes into consideration all the relevant factors that might typify the competitiveness of a destination. So doing, a four dimensions multi criteria framework was developed to evaluate dark tourism as a sustainable economic activity for emerging destinations. Haiti was selected as a case study because it is a Post colonial, post conflict and post disaster destination and also because the destination struggles to develop its tourism industry due to ‘blind spots’ (Séraphin, Gowreesunkar & Ambaye, 2016). The development of Voodoo events could enhance Haiti’s tourism offer and provide opportunities for locals to embrace their cultural heritage and come to terms with their past (Séraphin & Nolan, 2014). Unless the ‘blind spots’ of the destination are removed, there is no empirical evidence to confirm that tourism will bring prosperity to Haiti (Séraphin et al., 2016) nor that Voodoo can play a significant role in the country’s tourism sector (Séraphin & Nolan, 2014). Evidence derived from the travel writing Bonjour blanc a journey through Haiti (Thomson, 2014, 2004) shows that despite the fact that Voodoo is sometimes used as a commercial product in Haiti, this is only occasional and thus the religion has managed so far to keep its essence and original function.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGazing at death
Number of pages185
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • dark tourism
  • economic activity
  • emerging destinations

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