Walking the streets of a nuclear ghost town
: dark tourism in Pripyat : Chernobyl

  • Lisa Benden (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Dark tourism is defined as traveling to places, which are associated with tragedy and death. Even though the concept has already been defined in the early 90s, dark tourism has only received more attention during the past few years from the media and the public. The topic is ethically controversial and tourists’ reasons to be involved in it differ greatly. This dissertation aims to unveil the various reasons that tourists have and to understand what motivates them to visit a dark site. So far, past theories assume that tourists are interested in death and/or history, heritage plays a role, the site is seen as a famous attraction or tourists are simply curious. The focus is on one specific form of dark sites: ghost towns. The case of Chernobyl and the abandoned town Pripyat is analysed in this context.Based on a qualitative analysis with MAXQDA, the findings show that ’’Education/ Historical Interest’’, ’’Curiosity’’ and ’’Seeing it to believe it’’ are the most stated factors. In addition, especially younger tourists are influenced by what they see on social media. These findings are important for various stakeholders. They can help operators of dark sites to make the topic less ethically controversial by showing that most tourists have good intentions.
Date of Award25 Jan 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorHelena Rodrigues (Supervisor)


  • Dark tourism
  • Ghost towns
  • Chernobyl
  • Tourists’ motivations
  • Interviews
  • Content analysis


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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