21 May 2020:
The farcical saga with Facebook continued ... After the initially announced 30-day ban period had passed, not only did Facebook NOT reactivate my personal account, it has now also deleted the entire DT page that I had been curating since five years ago and that I had filled with content that's roughly the equivalent of two fat books worth of text and with thousands of photos. It's all been erased, wiped out, exterminated. No explanations were given, and all avenues of appeal were either not working or remained blocked. That's maximum censorship. What I find worst is the fact that I thus no longer have any contact with the over 3000 followers I had gathered over the years. It's unfair to them too.
However, I'm still trying to get a human being at Facebook to look at my case, as the injustice of this digital annihilation will be obvious to anybody actually capable of understanding the content I posted, unlike algorithms, which are evidently extremely bad at this.
BUT: I'm also working on alternatives (I'll put updates here once they're ready), and I have saved most of the content I posted on the DT page on Facebook offline, so I can gradually recreate a kind of mirror of it right here. It'll take a while but I've made a start - see this dedicated Facebook archive page
! The final almost four months of posts can now be seen there (obviously without comments by other FB users and replies to them, nor with any 'like' or share function). So it's not all lost.
22 April 2020:
more bad news, quite bad news. I have been shut off from my Facebook page – see the full story here
. Not nice to read but it’s an important explanation in more detail than I’d wanted it to be here on the news page. So please follow the above link!
10 April 2020:
Much more has happened since the last update here. As already half-expected, those trips in May have meanwhile also been cancelled, and the Namibia trip in August will for now be deferred by a year to summer 2021. It’s become clear that the coronavirus crisis will last a long time and bring big changes … here in Austria
, and in the UK too, there’s now talk of a ban on international travel for at least the time until a vaccine has been found, tested, approved and applied widely. And that can take a year or more. So I’m not planning any trips for now. It may well be that even a postponement of the Taiwan
itinerary to 2021 won’t be realistic. Hopefully, though, by August 2021 we’ll have freedom of movement back. We’ll see.
But of course I also fear for the travel industry. How many tour operators, hotels, airlines, etc. could possibly survive a whole year or so without any income-generating business? I sincerely hope that I’m only being overly pessimistic, but I’m finding it ever harder to stay positive. I’m still working on updates for this website (currently for France
– so you can expect a bunch of new chapters there very soon), but I’m also finding it difficult to muster the same level of motivation for writing as before … But for now I’m hanging in there ...
16 March 2020: I didn't expect having to update this section so soon since the latest comprehensive update below. But things have moved quickly ... due to the global Coronavirus crisis, and the travel restrictions imposed to curb or at least slow it down, two of those planned trips mentioned last time I already had to cancel. Kosovo should be easy to slot in some other weekend, but Taiwan will have to be postponed by a whole year. Given the current escalation I'm also worried about the two short trips in May, but am slightly more confident about the long Namibia trip in August. If the measures taken at the moment have the desired effect, I should be free to travel then again. Fingers crossed. Right now this country (Austria
) is more or less in lock-down. We're all supposed to stay at home, and can only leave the house for "essential reasons" (like shopping for food or meds). Oh well, I hope it'll at least work so that things get back closer to normal before too long.
7 March 2020: oh dear, oh dear. A whole year has passed since I last added anything here. Part of the reason is, I repeat, that these days I put most breaking news on DT's page on Facebook.
Another reason is that a lot has happened since 12 months ago that distracted me from keeping this page (and the site as such) always up to date. The main thing is: I've been contracted to write a book ... about dark destinations world-wide! It's with a reputable British publishing house and will be a lavishly illustrated (including plenty of my own photos) tome of ca. 350 pages in half coffee-table-book size. This had kept me very busy indeed for most of the past year, but I've actually submitted my work already, a couple of months ago. So I can now "lean back" (well, not really) and resume updating and expanding this website - until I get the proofs, that is. And then I'll also have to prepare the German version of the book. The original English draft is currently with the copy-editors and a designer. Production will take quite some time. But I will obviously advertise it here and elsewhere as soon as the book comes out!
As for past travels and new chapters on this site: Japan
has seen a lot of additions, including some immensely important ones, especially Fukushima
, and also major updates for Hiroshima
, including the boat tours to Hashima
, and several new sub-chapters for Tokyo
. Plus a new entry for the totally unique Okunoshima
and yet more tsunami-related chapters: Ishinomaki
and especially Okawa
The new chapters that are based on my most recent trip, to Ethiopia
, are also all already in place.
I'm currently working my way through the material from my summer travels last year. The chapters for Guyana
and French Guiana
are already up, and include major long chapters about Jonestown
and Devil's Island/Iles du Salut
. I'm now in the process of writing up Suriname
, which will yield several all-new chapters and then I have some important updates to do for Gdansk
, where I briefly took a return trip to before the Three Guyanas trip.
When all that is done I'll also have to see to some long-overdue updates and new chapters from trips before last year, some going back almost four years, but which somehow got suspended because newer things felt more urgent. This applies mainly to France and Belgium, but also a couple of places in Germany
As for travel plans for this year, I have several short (long) weekend trips lines up and a two week trip to Taiwan
around Easter - and I'm currently keeping fingers crossed that these trips will still be possible and that it won't come to any travel restrictions because of the current Coronavirus spread throwing a spanner in the works. Hopefully not, as in particular Taiwan has been quite a while in the planning and is to include a whole host of new and exciting places so far neglected on this site. And for the summer I have a three-week trip planned to a country that doesn't even yet get a mention on this site: Namibia
- plenty of cool ghost town
material there, but also other things.
Finally, I've also done loads more interviews
, for both radio, papers or their online spin-offs, as well as for researchers (the topic of dark tourism as a study topic seems to be getting especially popular in Germany and Austria at the moment!). Media interest has mostly been fuelled by the success of last year's HBO/Sky mini-series "Chernobyl" (which is indeed very good), which in turn gave the Chernobyl
tourism industry a massive boost, so much so that there is now even talk of "overtourism", with all the negative side-effects of not only overcrowding but also plenty of tourists misbehaving. Featured all over the media were whole series of rather inappropriate selfies taken in the Zone (including those by so-called "influencers" who exploit the Zone as backdrop for their own purposes, without much respect for the site, its history or its victims). In turn this was giving dark-tourism a bad press yet again, even though I always try to point out that these dubious things are rather the result of the fact that normally non
-dark tourists are suddenly getting crazy about Chernobyl. And that's not really the fault of "proper" dark tourists like myself. In general, I must say, the selfie-craze is increasingly getting out of control, including within dark tourism, sadly. Please people, restrain yourselves; dark tourism and selfies do not comfortably go together!
So much as a year's worth of an update. I'll try (but cannot promise) to not let another whole year pass before I update this section again ...
There's an article about me and dark tourism in the current edition of the prestigious Der Spiegel weekly (in German - available online, but for subscribers only, here
- external link, opens in a new window), and a new interview with me in another German paper, this one available in full online
(also external link, opens in a new window).
7 February 2019: I've had my surgery and am recovering fine ...
I've had a few more interviws as well and in early March will attend a travel trade fair for a panel discussion on dark tourism, and there may be more in the pipeline on the media front that I will put updates about here in due course.
Travel plans for 2019 are coming together nicely too: the summer trip to the Three Guyanas (Guyana
and French Guiana
) has already been fully put to gther and is booked. And at Easter I'll go on a return trip to Japan
to cover some new, or renewed sites, and also finally go to Fukushima. Looking further ahead, I hope to do a short trip to Ethiopa
at the end of the year as well, but for that nothing concrete has so far been planned.
24 January 2019: again, I found that this section has been neglected for too long. Lots has happened since the last entry - details following later - and I hope to stay a bit more up to date on this page in the future ... but first of all I have to go to hospital for a (routine) operation and will be out of action for a bit. If all goes well, I should be able to catch up with things in the next few weeks ...
a couple of long overdue book reviews have finally been added to the 'other sources - books
' section, one relatively recent publication (Tom Coote's "Shadow Trails
"), the other already few years old (Tony Wheeler's "Dark Lands
all the new St Helena
chapters are now uploaded!
I've given quite a few interviews lately, in the wake of the renewed surge in media interest due to that Netflix series "Dark Tourist"
. I usually post links to the articles that come out of these on DT's page on FB
as when they become available online. But I am now beginning to think that maybe a dedicated permanent page with links here on the main site might be a good idea. Let me think about that ... maybe.
24 July 2018:
finally, all new Croatia
chapters (plus Trieste
) are now finished and uploaded.
21 July 2018
: just out is another article
in the media, in German, that includes excerpts from an interview with me (external link - opens in a new window).
15 July 2018: the other day I spent a few interesting hours with a film team from Munich, Germany, doing a TV feature about dark tourism and hence came to interview me at home and on a short tour of some of Vienna's dark tourist attractions. One that appears online I'll post the link here.
16 April 2018
: I've just realized that I hadn't updated this section for over a whole year ... that's to the point of contradicting this section's very heading. Partly to blame is Facebook, where I run a DT page
and it's there that I tend to post more immediate, breaking news as things happen these days.
So what's been new on this site since last spring? Well, lots more new and updated chapters plus photos have been uploaded, for Germany
and in particular Russia
, which was my main research trip last year.
This year, other than short family visits over the Xmas/New Year period, I've just been on a two weeks plus trip to Croatia
, with a short side trip to Trieste
. So you can expect a whole new bunch of full chapters for those places.
And for this summer I have a very exotic destination planned: St Helena
, now finally reachable by air (rather than the week long voyage by boat both there and back) with some add-on in South Africa
where I will finally by able to fill in gaps in Johannesburg.
That's as much as I can reveal about my travel plans at this stage.
Looking back again, I'm still seriously behind updating and expanding my Belgium
chapters. Please bear with me. I'll get there eventually ...
Outside this website - I've given numerous media interviews that appeared in the press, radio and even TV (although that was but a snippet) in Britain, Austria, Russia and elsewhere ... plus even more numerous research interviews - the topic seems to establish itself ever more firmly as an academic subject too - and slowly also outside Britain, where it all started some 20 years ago. In the meantime I've also given interviews to students/researchers in Austria, Germany, Canada, USA and even India.
Generally, there seems to be a further growing interest in the topic of dark tourism. And, I am happy to observe, the general default negativity of representations of DT in the media is slowly beginning to wane. I've had a few much more sympathetic interviewers over this past year. Let's hope this development continues ...
26 March 2017:
all the new chapters for India
and the Andaman Islands
are now uploaded. Do take a look.
22 Februray 2017:
I'm in the media again, this time with a really good and well-balanced article in The Independent
(external link, opens in a new window), based on an extensive interview I gave a couple of weeks ago. Well worth reading!
January 2017: just back from India - so a number of new chapters will be put up under that heading soon. I'll give that priority before I return to write the remaining European chapters that still need doing. As I said, I won't be running out of material any time soon ...
13 December 2016:
New and updated chapters are now up under Germany
. France, Belarus and Belgium will have to wait until I'm back from my next trip, which will take me to India for the first time ever. That'll be a mixed trip with lots of non-dark things (culinary delights, wildlife, architecture), and not as frantic and intense a research trip as last summer's, but it will also include some interesting dark sites, e.g. in Amritsar
, and the Andaman Islands
... I won't be running out of material to write about any time soon, that much is certain ...
September 2016: just back from a long field trip across Europe, from Minsk in Belarus to Cherbourg in France. You can expect plenty of entirely new entries as well as substantially updated chapters to appear on this site over the next few months.
13 June 2016:
further to the last entry here - there's an associated blog entry
(external link) that's also of interest.
13 June 2016:
just listened to this excellent interview about dark tourism
(external link - opens in a new window). For once this one is almost completely devoid of the usual 'moral panic' attacks you so often get in the media; in fact it puts dark tourism in a proper context, which is very much appreciated. One of the interviewees, by the way, is a co-editor of the book "Dark Tourism and Place Identity
long time no news posting ... sorry for the neglect. Meanwhile all the new USA
chapters are up too, as are several new ones for Great Britain
- more are in the making, also for Slovenia
. So do keep checking back.
5 February 2016:
following my latest field trip to the Caribbean, researching sites of dictatorship etc., the new Dominican Republic
chapters are now all uploaded, with plenty of new photos too. With that out of the way I can finally get back to Hawaii
14 December 2015:
all the new Slovakia
chapters are now up. Hawaii
is nearly complete (except Pearl Harbor that still requires major revision and updating). The rest of that and the USA
as well as the remainder for Spain
will be my task in the new year.
10 November 2015:
long time since the last entry here. Meanwhile most of Spain
is up, and I am currently working on Hawaii
and the USA
following my long summer field trip there. Futhermore I've just been on a short excursion into a country that so far is not yet covered on this site: Slovakia. Expect several new chapetrs to appear on that too before long. But it's a lot of work, so bear with me please.
7 July 2015
: all the updates and new chapters for Italy
are now uploaded too.
Next big task is Spain ...
now DT also has a page on Facebook
! I'll aim at posting a Photo of the Day (almost) every day. These are selected from my large stock of photos from years of travelling as a dark tourist and so cover a wide range - this past week from nuclear sites to a cemetery with Pinochet junta victims, from Cold War relics to a smouldering volcano, from skulls of a Cambodian killing field to a war ruin in Bosnia/Herzegovina and environmental pollution in Kazakhstan. And that's just the beginning. Do go and follow the Facebook DT page
(and please also "like" and "share" it, so its reach gets increased).
13 November 2014:
There's a new article out that I have written for the blog at Experience Travel Group (who are amongst my sponsored-pages partners, see here
I think it looks pretty cool, if I may say so myself in all humbleness ... Content-wise there is obviously a lot of overlap with the relevant chapters on this website, but the texts (and some of the photos) are different and thus a worthwhile read for regular visitors to this site too. Do go and have a look. I also appreciate the nice words they have to say about me and my site, of course.
19 September 2014:
I'm in the papers! Well, in a specific Austrian tourism magazine, to be precise. It's called "FaktuM
" and in its current edition (9/2014) it runs a four-page (pp 70-73) special article on dark tourism ... in German, of course. It's interestingly entitled "Licht ins Dunkel" - i.e. it aims at shedding light on dark tourism (remember, in the German-speaking world the term is not very well known ... yet). In it the author makes reference to dark-tourism.com and uses ample quotes from me too. These are mostly not from the website but from a presentation I gave in German at the University of Vienna
earlier this summer.
Thankfully, the article is for once rather positive about dark tourism, i.e. it does not fall into the usual trap of "moral panic" (cf. here
) ... mainly because, unlike so many journalists who routinely slag it off without reflection, the author of this article did her homework beforehand.
The article gives a brief outline of the origin of dark tourism and the academic research of it, mentioning the iDTR
and myself in the process, and in the second half concentrates on a specific instance of dark tourism, namely visiting ghost towns
. Four such destinations
are briefly introduced, namely Pompeii
, Hashima island
. There are a couple of tiny inaccuracies, but on the whole I am very pleased indeed with this positive coverage of the topic of dark tourism in the media. May it set an example for others to follow too!
For those who can read German, here's a link to the online version of the article
(external link) and the fully illustrated version can be found as a pdf-document here
. In addition, here's a link to a manuscript for that presentation
which I gave earlier and which this article quotes from at length; so you can check it all up in its full context. The manuscript is not 100% identical to the presentation (where I also spoke freely for some stretches), but it is the written version that is closest to it.
back from a long trip to South-East Asia, which was as exhausting as it was exhaustive, covering large parts of Indonesia
, East Timor
. Processing all the photo material and writing up updates and entirely new chapters about all the places I visited on this trip will probably keep me very busy for most of the rest of the year ... and I haven't even finished writing up Latvia and Lithuania ...
August 2014: the redesign of this site is now more or less finished. Hope you like the new (and responsive) look. It's still a bit slow, though. I will have to look into that ...
17 July 2014: the re-design of the site is well on its way, just a few little things left to sort out. If that can't be done before I set off on my next big trip it will have to wait until I'm back. Keep fingers crossed.
10 June 2014: glossary
links are working again! Slowly getting there with the re-design too ...
4 June 2014: The re-design saga continues. Photo galleries appear to be working alright again, but now all links to the glossary lead to 404 errors. Hope this can be fixed soon as it affects a huge number of links. grrrrrr
26 May 2014: This site is currently undergoing a redesign, most of the time in the background, only occasionally can you already see the new template/interface design when things need to be tested. At other times (most of the time) it will still look largely as before. But: because of the ongoing work on the new design some functions, such as photo galleries, may at times not work properly while the site is switched into the old design mode. Once work on the new design is finished, it will be switched live permanently and hopefully all will work fine then. The main improvment the new design is intended to bring is that it will finally be "responsive", i.e. suitable for viewing on smartphones and tablets. Please bear with us during this transition period.
7 May 2014:
just back from a very intense trips to the Baltics - so you can soon expect a whole range of new chapters (and plenty of photos) about Lithuania
. It's a lot of work, though, so it may take quite some time for it all to be completed.
March 2014: there appear to be some mysterious dead links on the site - or rather: the links as such are fine, but when navigating in a certain sequence from subpage to subpage, their embedding in the site somehow gets lost and then a link may chuck you onto the home page instead of where it is suppoed to lead. As it is near impossible to determine at which point the connection gets lost along the way, it's a nasty problem. At present I have no clue as to how it could be rectified. Fortunately it doesn't happen often.
If it does happen to you I recommend that you navigate back to the page you've come from not by using your browser's back button but via the countries list or the menus at the top. That should normally sort it.
15 January 2014: FINALLY, dark-tourism.com is "live", i.e. publicly accessible without password-protected logging-in.