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What Is War Tourism?

By Patrick Lynch
Updated May 23, 2024
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When tourists deliberately visit nations that have been involved in a war, looking for evidence of the conflict, this is known as war tourism. There are examples of popular war tourist locations all over the world from Germany to the Far East. Although few of these nations showcase the effects of the war on their land, visitors still arrive expecting to find out more about tales of murder and torture. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most nations prefer to keep quiet about such events and focus on alternative attractions.

It is a mistake to think that war tourism involves the process of visiting countries who are currently involved in a brutal conflict. Aside from a number of journalists who cover wars and may jokingly refer to themselves as war tourists, there is no evidence that there is a substantial group of people who deliberately visit active war zones. Instead, war tourism is the practice of visiting a place that has been devastated by war many years after the conflict has ceased. War museums in these places are extremely popular locations for tourists of this nature.

There are dozens of examples of popular war tourism locations worldwide. Srebrenica is a place in Bosnia where more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were murdered in 1995 and is a popular war tourist location. Likewise, a number of visitors to Vietnam go to the famous National Defense Shooting Range and fire bullets from the AK-47s that helped the nation defeat the United States. Concentration camps in Germany, such as Auschwitz, which held hundreds of thousands of ill-fated Jewish prisoners, still attract thousands of tourists annually.

For these nations that are popular places for war tourism, the tourism is a means of making cash from the misery that was suffered during the conflicts. Many of these countries are still feeling the effects of a recent war and want to reinvigorate their faltering economies. El Salvador is said to be the first country to make war tourism a business in attempting to profit from its long Civil War which took place between 1980 and 1992.

There are some areas that are still considered too dangerous to attract war tourists. Examples of these countries are Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some nations that attract this form of tourism prefer to bring tourists away from areas where blood was shed to more peaceful sights. These countries want to distance themselves from the violent past.

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Discussion Comments
By anon356156 — On Nov 22, 2013

I would like to safely visit Iraq or Afghanistan to and see if they are still world leaders in using

torture and sexual humiliation to punish criminals and the enemies of the regime.

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