Abeer Attia

Tourism Studies Department, Alexandria University, Egypt

Dalal Abd El-Hady

Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, Alexandria University, Egypt

Salma El-Manhaly

Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, Alexandria University, Egypt


The tourist activity is characterized by its variable and diverse nature as it is a human activity involving a variety of attributes that need constantly to be satisfied through the different types of tourism. Meanwhile, the global transformations and developments that occurred during the past two decades have led to an increasing demand for more specialized types of tourism, among which, is dark tourism.

The variety and diversity of tourist sites and destinations for this type of tourism all over the world, has encouraged many countries to take advantage of it as a means of developing their tourist demand, in addition to learn from past mistakes and avoid them in the future.

Egypt has an abundance of dark tourism attractions, such as battle grounds, cemeteries of military leaders and international celebrities, memorials, houses of leaders, places of murders or assassinations, cemeteries, shrines, etc. Nevertheless, all these elements are not effectively utilized. Consequently, this study aims at shedding light on dark tourism as a new trend in the tourism industry, as well as, studying and making an inventory of its attractions in Egypt. It also concludes some results and recommendations that can be helpful in putting dark tourism on the Egyptian tourist map and contributing to the development of tourist demand to Egypt.

Keywords: Dark tourism, Dark tourism attractions in Egypt, Dark tourism demand.


Tourism is considered a human activity that involves many dimensions that require constant gratification through the various types of tourism. The recent emergence of global developments and transformations led to an increasing demand for more specialized types of tourism, among which is dark tourism. Furthermore, due to the international multiplicity and diversity of tourist destinations for this type of tourism, many countries have tended to achieve the maximum benefit from it in terms of developing a special tourism demand and learning from past mistakes in order to avoid them in the future (Varma, 2010).

Dark tourism, as a modern tourism term, is described as the intentional and unintentional tourists’ visits to destinations with a dark history associated with the idea of death, disasters, human tragedies, or atrocities. Such places include battle sites, military leaders’ and international celebrities’ tombs, soldiers’ and war victims’ memorials, great characters’ monuments, killing and assassination sites, ethnic massacres and cemeteries, as well as, mausoleums and leaders’ houses. The term may also include celebrations that venerate the memory of those who died for fighting for and defending their beliefs, or those who were murdered as an objection to their work and their achievements, as well as, the various manifestations such as throwing flowers on the graves of war and battle victims or leaders and celebrities by their relatives, beloved ones and friends, in recognition of their gratitude and sorrow.

Dark tourism aims at healing wounds and entails a collective sense of identity and empathy, reunion with grandparents, revival of events and self-fulfillment, self-discovery, commemoration, education and entertainment (El-Manhaly, 2015).


Despite the availability and diversity of dark tourism attractions in Egypt, such as battles’ and wars’ sites, soldiers’ and celebrities’ tombs, memorials, leaders’ homes, places of killing and assassinations, cemeteries, mausoleums and others, they are not optimally exploited. Thus, the present research aims to shed light on the attractions of this type in Egypt. It also aims to study the possibility of setting dark tourism on the Egyptian tourist map to achieve excellence for the Egyptian tourist product and increase its future tourist demand.


With reference to the conceptual framework and research problem, the hypothesis of the study turns out to be as follows:

- Dark tourism can contribute to the excellence of Egyptian tourism product and thus develop its tourist demand.


The present research aims to study dark tourism and its role in developing the demand for the Egyptian tourism product. The theoretical part reviews previous tourism studies associated with dark tourism, as well as, the important attractions of dark tourism in Egypt and its geographical distribution inside the various Egyptian governorates.

The practical part of the study consists of a questionnaire directed to the managers of the travel agencies category "A". The total population consists of 1915 agencies, according to 2013 statistics. The researchers distributed 400 questionnaires on travel agencies located in Cairo and Alexandria personally or via emails. The agencies have been selected randomly after excluding the agencies specified in organizing Haj and Umrah tours. The questionnaire aimed at determining the extent of awareness and importance of dark tourism to Egypt from the agencies’ perspectives and investigating the inclusion of dark tourism within their tour programs, as well as, their future intention to participate in the various marketing activities for this type of tourism. This enable the researchers to reach a set of results on which a number of executable recommendations can be suggested that will definitely serve the subject of the study in terms of placing dark tourism on the Egyptian tourist map and contributing to the excellence and development of the demand for the Egyptian tourism product.


5.1 The Emergence and Development of Dark Tourism

Visiting places associated with death is not a modern phenomenon. People have long been accustomed to visit sites associated, one way or another, with death, suffering, violence or disasters. This could be recognized in the old Romanian games for gladiators cycle where suffering and death were the core of the wrestling games (Stone, 2005a), or during the Middle Ages, as the attendance of public executions has become of the main interests of travelers (Stone and Sharpley, 2008). This trend of visiting places associated with death or violence has continued for centuries as there was an increasing care for sites associated with conflicts and events that affected the human’s fate, for example, visiting the anonymous bodies’ exhibitions, which has become a regular component in the trips of the 19th century in Paris and has appeared in England afterwards (Seaton, 1999).

Over the past decade, this trend has widened to the extent that the war-related sites and destinations started to form the largest category of tourist attractions in the world (Smith, 1998; Stone, 2006). By the beginning of the twenty-first century, dark tourism research has witnessed a deep and accurate boom which attracted a growing academic interest, as well as, media attention at the different levels (Stone, 2005b; Stone and Sharpley, 2008; Stone et al., 2013). Meanwhile, this period has witnessed the emergence of the first book for dark tourism entitled “Dark tourism: The Attraction of Death and Disaster” (Seaton and Lennon, 2004). It also witnessed the creation of the Dark Tourism Research Institute in 2005 at Lancashire University in Central England, which aimed at increasing the knowledge concerning the tourist visits geared to death and disaster sites, and increasing the relative weight of dark tourism by the press and broadcast media (Stupart, 2012). Consequently, more research attention was given to dark tourism to reveal the complexities of this phenomenon. This was emphasized by Sharpley and Stone (2009) who stated that dark tourism is still very limited within the social, cultural and political contexts.

Recently, several terms have been used alternatively with dark tourism reflecting multiple forms that are linked to the attractions or the experience of death, disaster, or suffering. These are presented by the following figure:

  • Thana tourism
  • Morbid Tourism
  • Black-Spot Tourism
  • Sensation Sites Tourism
  • Disaster Tourism
  • Grief Tourism
  • Fright (Fear) Tourism
  • Horror Tourism
  • Hardship Tourism
  • Slave Trade Tourism
  • Tragedy Tourism
  • Warfare (War) Tourism
  • Battlefield Tourism

  • Front Tourism
  • Castle & Forts Tourism
  • Military Tourism
  • Red Tourism
  • Memorials tourism
  • Genocide Tourism
  • Mortality Tourism
  • Holocaust Tourism
  • Cemetery& Graveyards Tourism
  • Phoenix Tourism
  • Prison Tourism
  • Convict Tourism
  • Killing-Fields Tourism

  • Extreme Death Tourism
  • Atrocity Tourism
  • Penal Tourism
  • Celebrity Death Tourism
  • Cruelty Heritage Tourism
  • Massacre Tourism
  • Trauma Tourism
  • Ghost Tourism
  • Assisted Suicide Tourism
  • Euthanasia Tourism
  • Assassination Tourism
  • Houses of Celebrity

Figure 1: Alternative Terms for Dark Tourism

Source: EL-Manhaly (2015), pp. 11-15.

5.2 Classification of Tourists and Dark Tourism Attractions

Scientists identified two groups of visitors visiting dark tourism sites as follows: Category I: Travelers for the purpose of linking personal thoughts, experiences, grief, sorrow and memories that are emotionally or physically or spiritually connected, one way or another, with the event site; as relatives or friends of the deceased, visits of honor, or commemoration. This category is directly related to the site (Best, 2007) and is referred to asDiaspora Tourists due to their deployment in search of their roots or for reconciliation with a particular event, thus their travel is mainly for learning (Stupart, 2012).

Category II: Travelers to death, disasters’ and tragedies’ sites for the purpose of entertainment and excitement with no link to the site or event, it only adds to their overall tourist experience value. Travelers in this category are referred to as a normal or public Visitor Viewer (Muzaini et al., 2007).

As regards the classification of dark tourism sites, it is very complex due to the multiplicity and diversity of those sites which range between real sites with original artifacts such as the holocaust sites, and those totally commoditized ones apart from the events that are presented (Stupart, 2012). Therefore, several classification models of dark tourism attractions have appeared that are presented by the following table:

Table 1 Comparison of Dark Tourism Models

Dann Classification

Stone Classification, 2006

"Dark tourism scale"

Stone Classification

"Seven categories of darkness suppliers"

Analytical matrix for the demand and supply of Dark Tourism

Identifiesareas and their characteristics in a descriptive context to a large extent but it lacks the theoretical bases.

Presents a penetrating insight of dark product features in a theoretical framework, but it lacks a clear determination of the types of these sites.

Achieves access the dark scale, through a developed taxonomy that takes into account the types of dark sites, but does not handle the demand f or these sites.

Determines dark tourism sites in a framework that takes into account the demand for these sites and which differs according to the tourists’ motives.

Source: EL-Manhaly (2015), p.41


The attractions of dark tourism vary among different Egyptian governorates as it is presented by the following table:

Table 2 Dark Tourism Attractions and their Geographical Distribution among Various Egyptian Governorates

Type / Site
North Sinai

- War and Forts Tourism: Military Museum, Horus route "War and Trade Route," El-Arish Castle, Tina Castle, Castle or Moufarrej, Tel Kawthar (a military shelter of Israeli forces in 1967: 1973).

- Disasters and Calamities Tourism: Rain Streams’ ruins at Ras Sidr (2010).

- Massacres and Atrocities Tourism: the massacres of El Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid which claimed the lives of the military people in Egypt.

Southern Sinai

- Horror and Ghost Tourism: Mount El Banat at Saint Catherine.

- Wars, Castles and Forts Tourism: Soldier Castle at Ras Sidr.


- Wars and Forts Tourism: Metla Path and 24th October Museum in Suez.

- Memorials Tourism: October martyrs memorial.

- Cemeteries Tourism: The 6th of October martyrs’ tombs.



- Houses and Palaces of Distinguished Characters and Leaders: de Lesseps Museum.

- Wars and Forts Tourism: Police Museum, Abu Atwa Abu Tanks Museum, Tree area, Ferry 6 ( martyrdom area of Abdel Moneim Riad)

- Memorials Tourism : 6th Ferry Memorial area, the memorial of to the Armed Forces Field.

Port Said
- Wars and Forts Tourism: Port Said Military Museum.
- Wars and Forts Tourism: Orabi Fortress.
- Houses and Palaces of Distinguished Characters and Leaders: Ahmed Orabi Museum.
- Massacres and Atrocities Tourism: Bahr El Baqar Massacre Museum.
- Horror and Ghost Tourism: Baron Palace, Zuwayla door.
- Houses and Palaces of Distinguished Characters and Leaders: Abdeen Palace Museums Group, the house of the President  Gamal  Abdel Nasser, the house of the President  Mohamed Anwar Sadat, the Nation House Museum (Saad Zaghloul house), leader Mustafa Kamel Museum, the Museum of Umm Kulthum at Manesterly Palace, Abdul Halim Hafez Museum  at Zamalek, Jeijer Anderson Museum.
- Wars and Forts Tourism: October War Panorama, Fortress of Babylon, Military Salah al-Din Castle Museum.
- Assassinations and celebrity deaths’ Tourism: assassination platform of the President  Anwar Sadat in Nasr City.
- Memorials Tourism : Anonymous Soldier  Memorial in Nasr City. 
- Tombs / Graves Tourism: the tomb of the President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the tomb of the President  Mohamed Anwar Sadat, the tomb of the leader Saad Zaghloul.
- Massacres and Atrocities Tourism: the massacre of the Mamluks at the  door of the castle and Bab El Azab Route, killing and violence events at El- Tahrir Square during the 25
 January  Revolution.
- Houses and Palaces of Distinguished Characters and Leaders:  Revolution Leaders’ Museum, Taha Hussein Museum, Ahmed Shawky Museum, Mahmoud Khalil Museum, El-Gezeera Museum , Gamal Abdel  Nasser and Anwar Sadat Museum at the Pharaonic Village. 
-Cemeteries Tourism: Giza , Saqqara and Dahshur Pharaonic Civilization Pyramids 
- Wars and Forts Tourism: Denshway Museum.
- Assassinations and celebrity deaths’ Tourism: El-Sadat Museum of Dar el Salaam at Mitt Ibom el-Kom.
- Massacres and Atrocities Tourism: Donshway Massacre.
- Houses and Palaces of Distinguished Characters and Leaders: King Farouk Palace at Edfina.
- Wars and Forts Tourism: Orabi Fortress at Edco, Qaitbay Fort at Rasheed.
- Horror and Ghost Tourism: Re-simulation of RIA and Sekeena legend.
- Houses and Palaces of Distinguished Characters and Leaders: El Montaza Palace, President Gamal Abdel Nasser House, Kaffafis  Museum, Villa of Princess Faiza sister of King Farouk, Kurdahi Palace, Baron Palace at Menasha, Antoniades Palace.
- Wars, Castles and Forts Tourism: Kaitbay Citadel.
- Assassinations and celebrity deaths’ Tourism: El-Sadat Museum at Biblioteca Alexandrina.
- Memorials Tourism: Navy Memorial.
- Tombs Tourism: Latin cemetery tombs , Mostafa Kamel, the Catacomb, Shatby,   the Commonwealth military cemeteries at Shatby .
El Alamein

- Wars, Castles and FortsTourism:El Alamein Military Museum.

- Memorials Tourism: Memorial of World War II Military Museum of El Alamein.

- Tombs Tourism: Commonwealth Cemeteries , German and Italian cemeteries.

- Wars and Forts Tourism: Rommel Museum.
- Cemeteries Tourism: Mountain of the dead ( El Mawta Mount)
- Tombs Tourism: The Valley of the Golden Mummies Cemeteries at El-Bhareya Oasis, the Pharaohs tombs at El- Dakhla Oasis, Kharga Oasis Albagauat tombs.
- Tombs Tourism: Tuna El-Gebel Mountain, Bany Hassan tombs.

- Horror and Ghost Tourism: Re-simulation of the Pharos curse Legend.

- Wars and Forts Tourism: Ramesseum and Habu Temples.

- Tombs Tourism: Tmbs of the Valley of the Kings and Queens.



- Wars and Forts Tourism: Philea Island.

- Cemeteries Tourism: the tombs of the Nobles, Cape City ruins, Aga-Khan Shrine, the anonymous Soldier tomb.

Source: EL-Manhaly (2015), p. 170.


The researchers obtained 240 completed questionnaires appropriate for analysis with a response rate of 60%.

Regarding the importance of dark tourism from travel agencies’ perspective, the majority of the study sample (97.5%) agreed upon the importance of the role of dark tourism in the enrichment of Egypt tourist map and the increase of tourist demand for the Egyptian product. Furthermore, most respondents (97.5%) agreed on the cooperation importance among the various stakeholders including tour operators, events’ sites, hosting community and visitors to develop and benefit from dark tourism demand.

Concerning the inclusion of dark tourism attractions within the programs of travel agencies, 45% of the sample stated that they include the sites of wars, battles and fights. Besides, 42.5% % of the sample includes the cemeteries’ sites within their tour programs. Whereas, the rest of the agencies include visits to either the houses of popular personalities and leaders or the memorials sites.

The results also revealed that 45% of the travel agencies stated that there is limited tourist demand for visiting dark tourism attractions with foreigners constituting most of it.

As for the marketing of dark tourism, it was apparent that 97.5 % of the travel agencies possess the intention to participate in the various marketing efforts for dark tourism in Egypt, while the rest refused the idea. The mentioned reasons for that include the unsuitability of sites for tourism, the lack of awareness of this tourism type and the probability of its success in the community, as well as, among the agencies. However, they provided some suggestions for its development and thus increasing the tourist demand for the country. These include:

- Inventory of the most important dark tourism sites in Egypt and developing the infrastructure and the various services necessary to receive tourists.

- Promoting incentive trips with low prices to dark tourism sites in Egypt.

-Increasing the awareness of the importance of dark tourism sites among the local community members.

- Specifying a committee to coordinate efforts between the various stakeholders, the Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Tourism Authority in order to shed light on this new type of tourism and take real steps towards its internationally promotion (tourism exhibitions).