UNDERSTANDING MOTIVATION OF VISITORS AT DARK TOURISM SITES (CASE STUDY OF AUGUST 7TH MEMORIAL PARK, KENYA)

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ABSTRACT

Recently, the fascination of death and disaster has influenced the tourism scene and today, millions of visitors from all over the world travel to sites of death and disaster. This study aims to identify what motivates tourists to visit sites of death and disaster in order to understand better visitor behavior at such sites and specifically the August 7th Memorial Park, Kenya; which was the site of a 1998 terrorist bomb attack that caused the deaths of 218 people and injured thousands more. Further it aims to provide site managers with information for better site management. Research questions ask which push and pull factors of motivation and which other motivational influences play a role at the Memorial Park. Also what the implica-tions of these motivational factors are to site management. The classic push and pull motiva-tion model by Crompton (1979) and Dann (1981) is used to build a theoretical framework for visitor motivation in dark tourism. The researcher also introduces and proposes a connection between these motivation factors and John Urry‟s (1990) Tourist Gaze Theory.

A structured questionnaire and interviews are used to collect data at the Memorial Park from 108 visitors and 4 staff members respectively. Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word are used to analyze the questionnaire and interviews respectively. The study finds two push factors of motivation at the Park; curiosity and novelty seeking with non dominant roles; also pull fac-tors of motivation, remembrance, education, artifacts and exhibits with non dominant roles; and cultural heritage and identity, death and dying, and location with dominant roles. Media plays both „push‟ andpullroles. Other factors found include history; also rest and relaxation with a dominant role, catharsis and peace, change, art in the Park and commerce which are unique to the Park. Additionally, the collective tourist gaze is dominant at the Park.

These findings present implications which provide managers with tools to better manage the site. The Park‟s aims and mandate constitutes education and remembrance respectively but their roles are non dominant. There is therefore need to create more interest in the Memorial museum by for example having special garden exhibit showings or considering a „free entry day‟ concept. The non dominant role of curiosity and novelty seeking implies non visibility of the Park.. Enhancement of Park interpretation by for instance posting informative signage in the vicinity of the Park can draw in new markets. Further, commerce, one of the Park‟s unique factors, can advance the Park‟s mandate and authenticity by for example selling themed com-missioned works of art and souvenir items. Repeat visitors at the Memorial gardens for rest and relaxation present opportunity to promote the Park for instance through brochures. Re-sults also imply recognition of new marketing strategies such as promoting the Park as place of remembrance, using social media to create a notable presence, nurturing the role of media for consistent and positive coverage and promoting the park to the Muslim community.


In conclusion, this study not only contributes generally to studies of motivation in dark tour-ism sites but suggests tools for better management and interpretation of these sites.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1          Introduction
            1.1       Objectives and research questions
            1.2       Justification and aim of the study
            1.3       Concepts, definitions and labels
            1.4       August 7th Memorial Park

2  Tourist motivation in dark tourism and the "tourist gaze"
            2.1       Push and pull factors of motivation
            2.2       Motivation factors in dark tourism
            2.3       The tourist gaze and dark tourism

3  Methods of data collection and analysis
            3.1       Visitor sample and questionnaire design
            3.2       Questionnaire implementation and analysis
            3.3       Staff sample and interview preparation
            3.4       Interviews implementation and analysis

4          Results
            4.1       Visitor profile and reasons for visiting
            4.2       Park attractions and other factors of visitation
            4.3       Thanatological theme and personal connection
            4.4       Staff interviews

5          Discussion
            5.1       Factors of motivation at the Park
            5.2       Implications and recommendations for site management
            5.3       The tourist gaze and motivation factors

6          Conclusions
            6.1       Summary of findings
            6.2       Limitations, reliability and validity
            6.3       Future research recommendations
References

Attachments


1   Introduction
What causes people to slow down their cars to gape and stare at a horrific accident scene on the highway? Or why do people sit through hours of horrific or catastrophic events on TV? Could it be the same thing that causes people to visit places that are connected with death and disaster? Is it just mere curiosity or a bizarre fascination with death or the macabre? These are some of the questions that sparked the authors interest and curiosity in dark tourism. Also, the realization that the author is a dark tourist herself, lead to the curious need to carry out a thesis research, with a topic related to motivation and dark tourism.

The dark tourism phenomenon is not new at all; humanity has been fascinated by death and the macabre since the gladiators of the Roman times. People all over the world have flocked to visit sites associated with death from ancient religious pilgrimages to today‟s ground zero tourists. Stone (2005) writes that there is an increasing plethora of sites associated with death, tragedy or the macabre that have become significant tourist attractions. Freire-Medeiros (2008,3) gives instances of dark tourism such as guided bus tours giving tourists the eligibility to enter and take photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, tourists wan-dering around radioactive fields of Chernobyl, visiting the concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau or travelling to prisons such as Alcatraz Island. These examples show just how dark tourism has taken its place in the world. Other researchers have noted that it seems the dark tourism phenomenon has recently touched not only consumers but other stakeholders in the tourism industry. Lennon and Foley discuss this as follows:

Furthermore dark tourism sites present governments and other authorities with moral and ethical di-lemmas. Recent tragic history often confronts the dynamics of commercial development and exploita-tion. Complex issues are raised surrounding the extent and nature of interpretation, the appropriate po-litical and managerial response and the nature of the experience perceived by visitors, local residents, victims and their relatives. (Lennon & Foley 2000).

1.1         Objectives and research questions



The objectives of this study are to identify push and pull tourist motivation factors at the Au-gust 7th Memorial Park, through a quantitative and qualitative visitor and staff survey respec-tively; to identify what role these factors of motivation play at the August 7th Memorial Park; to identify other factors of motivation that arise and may be unique to the Memorial Park; and finally to discuss implications that arise from these findings and make recommendations as to how they can be used for the benefit of site management.

Literature review uncovered a wide array of tourists‟ motivational factors. Most of these fac-tors were associated with leisure tourism. Tourists visiting sites of death and disaster would most likely not have the same reasons for visiting dark attractions. For example, a tourist may be compelled to visit ground zero in New York for totally different reasons as compared to a leisure site such as a beach resort. A list of possible motivational factors for tourists visiting dark attractions had to therefore be complied.


The push and pull motivational theory models (Crompton 1979 & Dann 1981) was found to be a practical framework that would suit this study. It would allow the researcher to put moti-vational factors into manageable categories. Crompton‟s (1979) push and pull model empha-
sizes that tourist‟s choice of a travel destination is influenced by two forces. Push factors that

push individuals from home, and pull factors that pull individuals toward a destination. Ac-cording to Dann (1981), push factors are internal drives or the desire for travel such as the need for escape, the need for novelty, or the need for self esteem. Pull factors are the attrac-tiveness of travel destinations which motivate tourists to visit such as beaches, shopping cen-ters, or friendliness of locals. The study will therefore examine a number of possible tourist motivations that follow a similar vein of division of internal push and external pull factors.


The research questions to be addressed will be as follows:

1.      Which push factors play a role in visitor motivation at the Park?

2.      Which pull factors play a role in visitor motivation at the Park?

3.      What other motivational factors influence visitors‟ decision to visit the Park?

4.      What are the implications of these motivational factors for site management?


1.2         Justification and aim of the study

Smith (1996, 248) on her research on war found that despite the horrors of death and destruc-tion, the memorabilia of warfare and allied product probably constitutes the largest single cat-egory of tourist attractions in the world. Similarly, Stone (2006) writes that as a diverse and fragmented set of dark tourism suppliers exists, so equally diverse are the motives of tourists who visit and consume these products. It is evident that there is a huge volume of supply of dark tourism products and demand of the same products. The researcher is assuming that tourism is a structure based on the interaction of supply and demand and that this interaction is a function that is relevant for studying visitor motivations. Further, Stone (2011) maintains that the existing literature on the motivations for dark tourism is fragmented. To bridge the...

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