Tanatoturystyka - kontrowersyjne oblicze turystyki kulturowej
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Apart from its leisure, cognitive and specialist functions, tourism also has an educational function. It is in the context of cognition and education that one should perceive journeys to the places of disasters, tragedies and death, defined in 1996 as dark tourism [Foley, Lennon 1996] or "thanatourism" [Seaton 1996]. What motivates the need for visiting these types of places? Undoubtedly, the shaping of such needs is encouraged by the media that create reality nowadays, and easy access to information. Death and violence may be considered a type of different experience, an extreme - as opposite to everyday life and travel. The need to see a memorial site or place documenting human death or tragedy is often an important element of a tourist (sightseeing) journey. It is an important component of a tourist product that is sensitive to market demand and interest on the part of tourists, which evolves with the changing world and people's needs. The author of the article defines thanatourism as a specific type of cultural tourism comprising journeys of a cognitive or cognitive-and-religious nature to places documenting and commemorating death. The journeys, to a certain extent, may be caused by the special characteristics of the person or persons for whom death is the issue of interest, by the nature, history and interpretation of the event or the place of destination, and the motives (needs) of participants in such journeys. Thanatourism, discussed in the context of a tourist movement, is conditioned by the nature of the emitting and receptive environment, mainly in the socio-cultural dimension (behaviour, philosophy of life), historical dimension (heritage, interpretation), psychological dimension (motives, needs) and economic dimension (a tourist product). It must be remembered, however, that thanatourism is just one type of tourism. A visit to a site commemorating death (e.g. at a cemetery, museum of martyrology, memorial) is usually an addition that supplements the entire journey (except for target trips), and often forms a component of leisure tourism. At the same time, experts on the subject are wondering in which direction present and future tourism will develop. What importance will be given to thanatourism in the age of media and the information society, the domination of spectacular news on violence, wars, terrorism and disasters? How will the needs, motives and behaviour of tourists change? Principally, the problem lies in the interpretation of death. Can death be a "tourist attraction"? Is the interest of tourists raised by death, its scale or form, or is it still the site of the death and the memory of the person and tragedy? Thanatourism, by the appropriate and morally correct interpretation of memorial sites documenting death, should have an important educational function, creating wise and conscious tourists, as well as ethical and moral behaviour. It should educate via cognition, experience, and dialogue.
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