Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2013

Capstone Advisor

Donald Cardarelli, Assistant Professor of Management

Honors Reader

Gerald Edmonds, Adjunct Marketing Professor

Capstone Major


Capstone College


Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

Marketing | Tourism and Travel


In 2011, the Ukrainian government granted tourist access to a place where one of the worst nuclear disasters in history occurred – Chernobyl. Since then, Chernobyl became the hottest Dark Tourism destination, attracting those who want to see the abandoned ghost-town of Pripyat, a place that 40,000 people used to call home. After the entire city was evacuated in a matter of hours, their belongings were left in pristine condition, disturbed only by the passage of time. Now, thousands of curious travel to Pripyat for guided tours of the Alienation Zone. These so-called Dark Tourists travel to destinations where death has occurred, and the world has plenty of sites to offer. Dark Tourism destinations include sites of battlefields, prisons, graveyards, mass murder sites, concentration camps, places of public executions and many more. Dark Tourism is a niche underserved market without identified needs, which is an opportunity to create a targeted marketing campaign in order to properly address the needs of these tourists and provide them with the destinations and experiences they are looking for.

This is a qualitative study in which I embark on a journey trying to understand the motivations behind traveling to these morbid destinations. I have interviewed 5 individuals who have been to various Dark destinations and analyzed the transcripts to find out that the founding motivation behind their travels is to gain understanding. The study also concluded that the Dark Tourists crave personal interaction with the survivors of these places, and feel the need to ask questions in an accepting environment.

I proposed that Ukrainian tour agencies hire some of the survivors who stayed in the Zone of Alienation for a short Q&A at the end of the tour. This will provide them with a source of income, provide tourists with an opportunity to ask questions and reflect, and finally to keep the memory of the Chernobyl tragedy alive. In the future, this ethnographic information may be used as grounds for building a targeted marketing campaign to help Ukrainian tourism agencies properly position their promotional efforts to satisfy the needs of a Dark Tourist traveling to Chernobyl.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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