Dark tourism, the holocaust, and well-being : A systematic review

Dark tourists experience negative and positive feelings in Holocaust places, suggesting emotional ambivalence. The research question of this study is, “is feeling well-being, as a consequence of dark tourism, a way of banalizing the horror?”. The purpose of this study is threefold: to provide an updated systematic literature review (SLR) of dark tourism associated with Holocaust sites and visitors' well-being; to structure the findings into categories that provide a comprehensive overview of the topics; and to identify which topics are not well covered, thus suggesting knowledge gaps.


Records to be included should be retrievable articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, books, and book chapters, all focused on the SLR's aims and the research question; other types of publications were outrightly excluded. The search was performed in Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases with three keywords and combinations: “dark tourism”, “Holocaust”, and “well-being”. Methodological decisions were based on the Risk of Bias Assessment Tool for Nonrandomized Studies (RoBANS). This systematic review adheres to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. During the process, 144 documents were included, of which 126 were journal articles, 8 were books, and 10 were book chapters. The results point out a hierarchical structure with the main category (Dark tourism - Holocaust - Well-being) and three second-order categories (Dark tourism - Holocaust, Dark tourism - Well-being, and Holocaust - Well-being), from which different subcategories emerge: motivations for visiting places and guiding; ambivalent emotional experience that leads to the transformation of the self; and intergenerational trauma.


The gaps identified were the trivialization of horror in Holocaust places; dark tourist profile; motivations and constraints behind visiting dark places; Holocaust survivors and their descendants' well-being; how dark tourism associated with the Holocaust positively or negatively impacts well-being. Major limitations included: lack of randomized allocation; lack of standard outcome definitions; and suboptimal comparison groups. Positive and negative impacts on the well-being of the Holocaust dark tourist were sought, as they are associated with the marketing and management, promotion, digital communication, guiding, or storytelling design of such locations.

José Magano, José António Fraiz-Brea, Ângela Leite | 2023
In: Heliyon ; ISSN: 2405-8440 | 9 | 1 | january | e13064
Emotional States, Holocaust (en), Mental health, Museums, Quality of Life, Survivors, Systematic Review