dark tourism
n. Tourism that involves travelling to places associated with death, destruction, or a horrific event.
Other Forms
If you've ever had the desire to visit a battlefield or some other location where death and tragedy occurred — the Flight 93 memorial in Somerset County, for example — that's a type of traveling called "dark tourism."

You can find out more about this growing tourist trend by one of the top researchers in the field, Philip R. Stone, who will speak on "Death, Dying & the Consumption of Dark Tourism: A Thanatological Perspective" at 11 a.m. Thursday at California University of Pennsylvania's Eberly Science and Technology Auditorium (Room 110).

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Mr. Stone is a senior university lecturer with the University of Central Lancashire, based in Preston in Northwest England. The university hosts The Dark Tourism Forum (www.dark-tourism.org.uk), an online academic resource facility and research forum to which Mr. Stone is both the founder and editor.
—“Expert lectures on dark tourism,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 09, 2007
If you have ever been to the world war battlefields in northern France, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, a Holocaust museum or even a military cemetery, then you've participated — perhaps unknowingly — in dark tourism. The term applies to the increasingly popular pursuit of visiting sites where people have suffered or died in tragic or spectacular circumstances. The killing fields of Cambodia, the gulags of the former Soviet Union and the ruins of New Orleans have all become tourist hotspots, while more than half a million people visit the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau each year. …

Why do people do it? [Philip Stone] argues that death has been almost completely hidden from everyday public life in most western societies. In a paper awaiting publication, he suggests people might engage in dark tourism to redress this balance — to explore the meaning of their own mortality and to indulge their curiosity about death in a socially acceptable public context, in a way they could not in private, when such contemplation is more likely to lead to dread or terror.
—“Dark tourism,” New Scientist, March 31, 2007
1997 (earliest)
The replica limousine drives slowly through the Dallas streets past cheering crowds. Your heart skips as it slides past the book depository and the inevitable gunfire rings out. The car's speakers fall quiet: the president has been shot.

The driver slams his foot on the accelerator and secret service men can be heard panicking into their walkie-talkies. The car races off to Portland hospital but it is too late: the president is dead.

The tour guide leans across the dashboard, turns the audio tape off, takes your money and wishes you a nice day. Your JFK Presidential Limousine Tour is over.

The JFK tour is the latest example of 'dark tourism', a new and growing phenomenon that is beginning to attract academic concern. The worry is that the tourist industry is going too far in turning sites of death and destruction into mere entertainment.
—James Hall, “Shot in the head — roll up for the magical history tour,” Scotland on Sunday, August 10, 1997
The 137-foot boom fell Wednesday morning while being dismantled on the roof of the new Continental Illinois Center at 520 Madison Avenue.

When the boom fell, it dislodged chunks of granite from the façade of the building and sent them hurtling to the street, killing one pedestrian and injuring 16 other persons. …

The building, whose base extends along the west side of Madison Avenue from 53d to 54th Street, was something of a dark tourist attraction. Dozens of pedestrians gathered at the police barriers on Fifth Avenue to ask, again and again, ''What happened?''
—David W. Dunlap, “Workers remove the tip of crane boom,” The New York Times, July 25, 1982