Cemetery tourism can
be seen as part of the current overall interest in dark tourism, driven at least in part by the move of the Gothic from the
periphery to the mainstream of popular culture. In its modern form, it began in early 19th century Paris, as Pere Lachaise became a fashionable destination for the living as well as the dead. As more and more tourist guidebooks, perhaps catering
to the interests of younger travellers, feature cemeteries as interesting urban locations, cities seem keener to develop cemetery tourism as part of their visitor attraction portfolio.
At the European level,
the Association of Significant Cemeteries of Europe is working hard to promote and develop cemeteries as significant cultural resources, of interest equally to residents and
visitors. More locally, there are a growing number of Friends groups who have the same aims, using guide books and guided tours to raise the profile of their sites and using their collective
strength to support the owners in conserving and developing the material aspects of the property.
For most people, a visit
to a cemetery as part of a holiday is not a dark tourism episode. It is, rather, a way to get another, more oblique view of
the social or cultural history of the host city or region, and to view the works of local architects and sculptors. For the
dark tourist, however, the imagined presence of the dead – or indeed Death itself – amid the rich symbolism of
grave markers and atmospheric surroundings, provides a sensational or emotional pleasure, rooted in Romantic or Gothic art