When death is the destination: The business of death tourism - despite legal and social implications

De Mond Shondell Miller, Christopher Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper views the growing popularity of death tourism which directs the confrontation with grief and mortality with the expressed purpose of orchestrating travel that culminates in assistance to end one's life. The specific aims of this paper are to describe the emerging phenomenon of death tourism and situate it as a form of dark tourism, to present briefly the social and legal aspects of assisted suicide in conjunction within the tourism industry, and to conclude with how the trend of death tourism is potentially spreading to other countries beyond Europe. Design/methodology/approach: By employing a variety of primary and secondary resources, from death tourism industry documents, legal statutes, and news reports, this study explores the propositions of this article. Findings: Whereas much of the contemporary research in dark tourism focuses on sights, experiences, and actual memorialization, death tourism tends to comprise a holistic view of the emerging phenomenon by viewing supply and demand management (and promotion), political interpretation and control. The final component of the paper views societal interpretations of death tourism and its potential for market expansion. Research limitations/implications: There have been several social movements and legislative attempts to curtail the spread of assisted suicide and death tourism; however, the demand for the services has grown to the point where jurisdictions are considering measures to allow this practice. Such an expansion of legalized assisted suicide will allow those seeking the right to die more options for a death within a diversified tourism industry. Originality/value: Death tourism, within dark tourism, represents an emerging field with few academic resources. This paper works to conceptualize and clarify the unique place death tourism holds within tourism and dark tourism specifically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-306
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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