Virtual Dark Tourism: The Role of Sound Branding and Augmented Reality for Death Sites

Virtual Dark Tourism: The Role of Sound Branding and Augmented Reality for Death Sites

Maximiliano Emanuel Korstanje (Department of Economics, University of Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina & CERS, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK) and Handayani Bintang (Independent Researcher, Indonesia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2871-6.ch011


Death is a great unifier, not only for one who is in grief but also those who have similar shared values (i.e., tourist demand for visiting death sites). In this sense, visitation to the death sites denotes its importance to people's lives. However, as types of death sites are distinctively different from one to another, death sites as tourist attraction remains a segmented target market. This chapter looks at some viewpoints for making death sites not only for a segmented target market, which leads to discourse of virtual dark tourism (VDT) formation. With sound branding coupled with augmented reality (AR) as tools to support the claims of virtual dark tourism, death sites, which are considered exclusive touristic market offerings, presumably could be consumed by more target markets. Several issues and direction for future research are discussed.
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In the post-modern society, the life expectancy was expanded creating new benefits and opportunities for aging citizens. The bio-technology which was systematically applied to the life expectancy and the war-fare enhanced the quality of life in global cities while changing the disposition of subject to death. As Phillip Aries (1975) puts it, technology made the life safer though the figure of death became wilder. The same in other terms, postmodernism domesticated indeed the death expanding the life expectancy –in comparison to Middle Age- while potentiating its psychological effects in society. In the book The Rise of Thana Capitalism and Tourism,Korstanje (2016) argues convincingly that lay-tourists look to gaze “the other´s death” in order to reinforce their own sentiment of supremacy and narcissism. They feel that after all, they belong to the “privilege class”. This explains why dark tourism has situated as an emerging and growing segment over the recent years (Lennon & Foley, 2000; Stone 2006; Stone & Sharpley 2008). Quite aside from this and the attention given to dark tourism, Virtual Dark Tourism (VDT) still remains in its infancy. Technology often potentiates and declines dark tourist destinations. To some extent, VDT derives from the notion of Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) as two key forces towards the enrichment of sound branding. Despite of studies on AR and VR in Tourism Destination and Mobile phone context has been discussed in the literature (see Cheong, 1995; Julier, Lanzagorta, Baillot, Rosenblum, Feiner, Hollerer & Sestito, 2000; Vlahakis, Karigiannis, Tsotros, Gounaris, Almeida, Stricker & Ioannidis, 2001; Fritz, F., Susperregui & Linaza, 2005;Marimon, Sarasua, Carrasco, Álvarez, Montesa, Adamek, ... & Gascó, 2010; Kounavis, Kasimati & Zamani, 2012; Yovcheva, Buhalis & Gatzidis, 2012; Linaza, Marimón, Carrasco, Álvarez, Montesa, Aguilar & Diez, 2012; Han, Jung & Gibson, 2013;Tussyadiah, Wang & Jia, 2017; Tussyadiah, 2017), much remains to be explored in the case of VDT. The specialized literature suggests that AR as well as VDT combines element of interactions which often mediate between the virtual tourist and the visited landscape. Most probably, this new emerging segment substantially changes the essence of classic tourism (Alimamy, Deans & Gnoth, 2017). In this token, Wilkinson (2010), and Stone (2006) debate to what extent death-related sites are not only formed by attraction-driven but also by tourist-demand forces. The emotional theory –e.g. Sound Branding (Westermann, 2008; Robinson, 2014; Doucleff, 2012; Yang & Lee, 2009; Zangwill, 2004; Yang & Lee, 2004; Sloboda, 1999; Kivy, 1991) occupies a central position in the configuration of tourist experience as well as the co-values created in the dark sites. Specifically, AR revolves around incorporation of digital elements into the physical world through technology gives interactivity and enhances the physical world by adding elements such as textual content, URL links, video and audio into previously static objects (Vaughan-Nichols, 2009). Further, the difference between AR and VR is that VR fully replaces the physical world with another world whereas AR retains the existing world but with additional information (Alimamy, Deans & Gnoth, 2017). However, the intertwined variables of VDT in the context of development of Death sites, proliferation of ICT e.g. AR and Sound Branding seem to be limited in the literature.

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