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Cemetery tourism in southern Spain: an analysis of demand

Maria Genoveva Dancausa Millán   ORCID icon ; Córdoba University, Faculty of Business, Córdoba, Spain
Leonor María Perez Naranjo ; Córdoba University, Faculty of Business, Córdoba, Spain
Ricardo David Hernandez Rojas ; Córdoba University, Faculty of Business Dpt. Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Policy, Córdoba, Spain
Maria Genoveva Millan Vazquez de la Torre ; Loyola Andalusia university, Faculty of Business, Córdoba, Spain

Puni tekst: engleski, pdf (489 KB) str. 37-52 preuzimanja: 505* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Dancausa Millán, M.G., Perez Naranjo, L.M., Hernandez Rojas, R.D. i Millan Vazquez de la Torre, M.G. (2019). Cemetery tourism in southern Spain: an analysis of demand. Tourism and hospitality management, 25 (1), 37-52.
MLA 8th Edition
Dancausa Millán, Maria Genoveva, et al. "Cemetery tourism in southern Spain: an analysis of demand." Tourism and hospitality management, vol. 25, br. 1, 2019, str. 37-52. Citirano 26.09.2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Dancausa Millán, Maria Genoveva, Leonor María Perez Naranjo, Ricardo David Hernandez Rojas i Maria Genoveva Millan Vazquez de la Torre. "Cemetery tourism in southern Spain: an analysis of demand." Tourism and hospitality management 25, br. 1 (2019): 37-52.
Dancausa Millán, M.G., et al. (2019). 'Cemetery tourism in southern Spain: an analysis of demand', Tourism and hospitality management, 25(1), str. 37-52.
Dancausa Millán MG, Perez Naranjo LM, Hernandez Rojas RD, Millan Vazquez de la Torre MG. Cemetery tourism in southern Spain: an analysis of demand. Tourism and hospitality management [Internet]. 2019 [pristupljeno 26.09.2021.];25(1):37-52.
M.G. Dancausa Millán, L.M. Perez Naranjo, R.D. Hernandez Rojas i M.G. Millan Vazquez de la Torre, "Cemetery tourism in southern Spain: an analysis of demand", Tourism and hospitality management, vol.25, br. 1, str. 37-52, 2019. [Online].

Rad u XML formatu

Purpose – Cemetery tourism is a category of dark tourism that is increasingly gaining ground in Andalusia (southern Spain). This autonomous region is home to several cemeteries that, due to their singular characteristics and funerary monuments, form part of the European Cemeteries Route.
Design/Methodology – In this study, a survey was performed on a sample of 532 tourists who engage in dark tourism (Andalusian Cemeteries Route) with the aim of determining a specific consumer profile. Univariate and bivariate analysis was used in order to describe the socioeconomic variables of cemetery tourism.
Findings – The results show that this type of tourism primarily attracts young people with university studies who profess to be very satisfied with the route and who would be willing to visit other cemetery routes in various locations.
Research originality – The originality of this paper is the identification of the socioeconomic characteristics of cemetery tourism in Southern Spain. The principal shortcomings detected were the lack of knowledge about Andalusian cemeteries among foreign tourists, and the lack of marketing dedicated to promoting the route in Andalusia.

Ključne riječi
dark tourism; cemetery routes; Andalusia; consumer profile

Hrčak ID: 217238


▼ Article Information


In recent years, changes have been observed in tourism consumer tastes which reveal that tourists not only want to experience what others have experienced, but also want new and more personal experiences. In response to this demand, tourism supply should and must adapt (Fraiz 2015). The use of new technologies in tourism means that consumers now have access to a wide range of tourism options, as well as to the opinions and evaluations of other individuals who have experienced the tour just a click away. Having access to such information can generate a certain degree of confidence when choosing a destination, especially if the destination is underexploited due to its motif, which might not be to all tastes, or its macabre or spiritual connotations. Some of the new demands for tourism products are related to sites associated with tragedy (terrorist attacks, Potts 2012; the Holocaust, Kidron 2013; prisons, Ross 2012) and death (cemeteries, Seaton 2009).

Death and the circumstances surrounding death, especially in the case of unnatural death, such as tragedies which in theory should teach us not to repeat mistakes from the past, are the target of dark tourism. This is provided, of course, that there is no direct connection between the tourist and the death in question, which must be able to transcend individual feelings of loss for loved ones. Clear examples might be the genocide of a nation (Bonnekessen 2013) or slavery (Mowatt and Chancellor 2011).

Throughout the ages, a sector of society has always enjoyed and been fascinated by the circumstances surrounding death. In fact, this interest could be regarded as the precursor of dark tourism without actually being ‘tourism’, given that individuals did not usually travel far from home. People could engage with death as a leisure activity at a more local level. For example, in ancient Rome the public were entertained by gladiators who fought for their lives, whether against other gladiators or against wild animals. In the Middle Ages, many people attended executions (burnings at the stake or hangings) as a normal, everyday event (Moufakkir and Burns 2012).

However, many dark tourism researchers acknowledge that people travelled to sites associated with death before the modern era. Seaton (1996) associated such practices with a thanatopic tradition; a component of Western religious and philosophical thought that intensified during the Romantic Era in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (Bowman and Pezzullo 2009).

In the twentieth century, people began to travel to sites associated with death not because of their philosophical or spiritual connotations, but rather out of curiosity or morbidity; thus marking the origins of dark tourism. Tourist motivations for engaging in dark tourism, which dates from the modern era (after World War I) according to Canalis (2017), are diverse and determined by each one of the sub-sections in which this new tourist attraction is divided. Today, the consumption of dark tourism might conceivably yet unconsciously be replacing age-old mysterious rituals, where individuals in a tribe might have had to look death in the face in order to find meaning to their short and hazardous lives. This study analyses a specific sub-section of dark tourism, cemetery tourism (thanatourism) in southern Spain, with the objective of determining the socioeconomic profile of tourists who engage in dark tourism and thus adapt a more adequate supply for current and future demand.


Tourism associated with death and suffering has received many names, including ‘negative sightseeing’ (MacCannell 1989); ‘morbid tourism’ (Blom 2000); ‘tragic tourism’ (Lippard 1999); ‘thanatourism’ (Seaton 1996); ‘grief tourism’ (Rojek 1993; Trotta 2006); ‘milking the macabre’ (Dann 1994); ‘difficult heritage’ (Logan and Reeves 2009); ‘atrocity tourism’ (Ashworth, 2004); and ‘dark tourism’ (Lennon and Foley 2000), with the latter coinage being the most widely used today. Lennon and Foley (2000, 22) define dark tourism as “the phenomenon which encompasses the presentation and consumption (by visitors) of real and commodified death and disaster sites”. According to these authors, dark tourism is the displacement of visitors to places where there have been deaths or disasters. Visitors do not contemplate such places as settings in which to commemorate family and friends, but from the perspective of leisure or recreation, marking a fundamental change in the conception of how death, disaster and other atrocities are being handled as associated tourism products. However, there are other definitions of the term, including that of the Institute for Dark Tourism Research (iDTR 2014) at the University of Central Lancashire, England.

Dark tourism is the act of travel and visitation to sites, attractions and exhibitions that have real or recreated death, suffering or the seemingly macabre as a main theme. Tourist visits to former battlefields, slavery-heritage attractions, prisons, cemeteries, particular museum exhibitions, Holocaust sites, or to disaster locations all constitute the broad realm of ‘dark tourism’ (iDTR 2014).

Sharpley (2005) argued that dark tourism has become a fashionable and emotive term that may oversimplify a more complex, multifaceted, multidimensional phenomenon. However, Lennon and Foley (2000) maintain that dark tourism is a product of modern world circumstances that have given rise to changes in the presentation and consumption patterns of death, which vary depending on the destination. For example, Slade (2003) argued that Australian and New Zealand tourists visit Gallipoli to commemorate the birth of their respective nations, and not because it was the setting of a battle which resulted in a huge loss of life. This suggests that the main motivation behind visiting the site is more one of nationalistic identity rather than death.

Stone (2006) developed a framework comprising seven categories he termed the ‘Seven Dark Suppliers’ in order to classify different types of dark tourism supply and the individual products corresponding to each one.

Dark Fun Factories are sites and attractions with a purely fun and commercial focus, where events relating to death or the macabre might be real or even fictional. These sites supply ‘fun’ products and are usually at the ‘lighter’ end of the ‘dark tourism spectrum’. For example, Dracula Park is an attraction in Romania inspired by the life of Vlad Tepes, a real-life character infamous for impaling his enemies, which, in turn, inspired the novel Dracula. In this particular case, the attraction is a mixture of the macabre and fiction (the myth that surrounds it).

Dark Exhibitions are showcase products associated with death and the macabre, but with a clear commemorative and educational focus. They are not simply aimed at entertainment and enjoyment, as in the case of dark fun factories, but provide educational opportunities. However, like dark fun factories, they also have a tourism infrastructure, although it is important to note that they are often located far from the actual site of death or macabre event. An example of a dark exhibition is The Smithsonian Museum of American History’s exhibit of both images and artefacts from 9/11 that attempts to tell the story of the terrorist attacks and venerate the victims. The Catacombe dei Cappuccini are catacombs in Palermo, Sicily, where the mummified bodies of Capuchin friars and wealthy citizens are displayed along the walls of the convent’s cemetery.

Dark Dungeons are attractions that showcase both prisons and courthouses from yesteryear. They combine entertainment (like dark fun factories) and education (like dark exhibitions), but with a greater focus on tourism infrastructures and merchandising. Dark dungeons are usually located in buildings that were originally not intended for dark tourism but are now used for this type of tourism. For example, the National Justice Museum in Nottingham, UK, is an attraction that combines education and entertainment on a site which has housed a court since the fourteenth century and a prison since the fifteenth century.

Dark Resting Places refer to cemeteries or burial sites as potential dark tourism products. Already seen as commemorative sites, the aim is to use cemeteries to encourage more visitors to the surrounding area in an attempt to conserve landscape and architecture. Because of their very nature, cemeteries are directly associated with death and an infrastructure of associations, websites, and tourism tours has been formed around them. Many associations regard cemeteries as cultural, historical, and artistic elements. The Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe (ASCE) is responsible for the conservation of Europe’s most significant cemeteries and tours. The Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, for instance, receives over two million visitors a year, and contains the tombs of celebrities such as Maria Callas, Jean de La Fontaine, and Oscar Wilde. Weaste Cemetery in Salford, England not only commemorates loved ones who have passed away, but is also frequently visited by the public for exercise and relaxation, and those who wish to learn about the cemetery’s history. The consumer profile of individuals who visit cemeteries for tourism is the focus of this study.

Dark Shrines are sites where remembrance and respect are paid to a recently deceased person. These sites are usually not far from the place or time of death. Dark shrines are usually temporary installations surrounded by floral tributes. They have very little tourism infrastructure and often have a short but influential impact in the media and politics. An example of a dark shrine can be found in the shrine built around the tomb of Elvis Presley, which was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2006, or the shrine created after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales at the gates of Kensington Palace, where flowers were laid by many British citizens who mobilised in a show of respect. Another example is Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attack, which has become a must-see destination for every tourist visiting New York.

Dark Conflict Sites include activities, sites, and destinations associated with warfare and conflict. They have an educational but mainly commemorative focus and were not initially destined to form part of the dark tourism product range. This type of dark tourism is becoming increasingly commercialised and, as a result, has a growing tourism infrastructure as evidenced by the increasing number of organised tours to warzones. The Solomon Islands, where the Battle of Guadalcanal took place in World War II, is an example of dark conflict site tourism. The Islands’ government has joined forces with local business to exploit the debris left behind by war to create a tourist attraction in the paradisiacal location.

Dark Camps of Genocide is the darkest category of the seven. These are sites where atrocity and genocide are the central theme. Although not very common, they do exist in certain places in the world. They receive many visitors and are located where the events were produced. Dark Camps of Genocide have both an educational and commemorative focus. Auschwitz-Birkenau, where over a million people died, most of whom were Jews, is the most notorious and largest of the extermination camps. The camp was built by the Nazis in World War II after their invasion of Poland, and is located very close to Krakow. Both the Nazi doctrine and the concentration camps have had a lasting impact on the collective consciousness.

Given the increasing demand for dark tourism, the question arises as to what motivates people to engage with death and suffering. The answers to this question are diverse, the most significant being:

  • The desire for new experiences or 'holidays in hell' (Dann 1998).

  • The need to confront death and dying, or of having an 'interest' in death and everything associated with it (Stone and Sharpley 2008).

  • An interest in history and heritage, education, and reminders of the past, as well as human suffering (Minić 2012), with an inherent desire to understand how people survive catastrophes and to pay homage to those who suffered, while also learning lessons from the past in order not to repeat the same atrocities (Ghadban, El Maalouf and Zaki 2015).

Tourists who engage in dark tourism have a variety of reasons for doing so and plan their trip accordingly. Europe as an old continent is replete with sites in which to engage in dark tourism, including cemetery tourism. However, this type of tourism has its defenders and detractors. The former claim that dark tourism is a new concept that redirects visitors from more conventional monuments, while promoting the conservation of sites of important historical, artistic, and social heritage. In contrast, the detractors, who reject this new form of tourism, claim that the arrival of visitors could jeopardise the conservation of burial grounds, as well as the tranquility that, they argue, such places should maintain conscientiously. The quest for new destinations and experiences (Zerva 2011), the desire to experience strong, authentic, and ‘forbidden’ emotions within a society created precisely to eliminate them, curiosity about tragedy born of a past or present disaster or crisis all appear to be reasons behind the increasing demand for dark tourism. This has obviously given rise to many ethical questions about the commercialisation of tragedy and its inclusion in the leisure industry (Lennon and Foley 2000; Strange and Kempa 2003). In this study, we analyse the profile of cemetery tourists in southern Europe, specifically in Andalusia, and the reasons that motivate them to engage in dark tourism.


Cemetery tourism, also called ‘necro-tourism’ and ‘thanatourism’, is a sub-section of dark tourism that is becoming increasingly popular, although this can also be considered cultural tourism if the main motivation of the tourist is only to know the funerary heritage. Tourists wander through burial grounds with the aim of discovering the artistic, architectural, historical, and scenic heritage that often abound in cemeteries, as well as knowing the macabre legends of violent deaths. Important cemeteries in the United States include Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where local historians provide guided tours, and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which may be the most famous military cemetery in the world. Founded during the American Civil War, this cemetery is the final resting place of President John F. Kennedy whose monument is marked by an ‘eternal flame’. Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts is said to be one of the most beautiful ‘parks’ in the United States. It not only attracts visitors to the tombs of the many famous individuals buried there, such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry Cabot Lodge, but also a wide variety of birds and plants. The Cementerio de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attracts tourists for its sculptures, as well as its history. In Europe, the Victorian-era Highgate Cemetery in London is now a Nature Reserve, with flowery pantheons featuring fallen and half-fallen angels and late-Gothic imagery. The Wiener Zentralfriedhof in Vienna is where some of the most emblematic musicians of all times are laid to rest, among them Schubert, Brahms, Salieri, Beethoven, and the Strauss family. This cemetery is home to monuments to the fallen of World War I and the Austrian War of Succession. The Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb, defined as a garden created for the dead, is famous for the romantic beauty of its sculptures, which transform it into a spectacular outdoor art gallery. The Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is one of the most visited cemeteries in the world, undoubtedly due to the number of celebrities buried there, such as Gertrude Stein, Jean de La Fontaine, Moliere, Balzac, Delacroix, Edith Piaf, Rossini, Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison. The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is hemmed in between the centuries-old houses of the Jewish Quarter and is famous for its agglomeration of tombs. According to the city archives, there may be a hundred thousand people buried there, sharing over twelve thousand headstones between them; figures that speak of the insufficient space that Prague granted the Jewish ghetto during its active period. The last burial was performed in 1787, thus trapping time inside its old iron gates forever. Cimitirul Vesel in Romania is known as the ‘Merry Cemetery’ and is where local artist Stan Ioan Pătraș sculpted the cemetery’s first tombstone in 1935. The tombs portray happy scenes from the daily life of the deceased, which reflects the beliefs of the Dacia culture that death should be a joyous experience. The site has since become a tourist attraction.

In Spain, the intrinsic value of cemeteries is being enhanced by actions aimed at preserving their heritage. It is important to mention that around twenty Spanish cemeteries have been granted ‘Heritage of Cultural Interest’ status (Spanish acronym BIC), or have been given regional and/or local recognition. In recent years, cultural tourism has emerged as one of the driving forces behind heritage conservation, and cemetery tourism is not immune to this trend. Consequently, cultural tourism also champions the protection of cultural itineraries, in other words, the conservation and appreciation of both the infrastructures and the landscapes that are associated with them. Cultural itineraries highlight the monumental and artistic-historical attributes of cemeteries, defining them as ‘open museums’, ‘open air museums’, ‘microcosms’ and ‘local heritage sites’, and are presented as an alternative way of visiting and discovering the history and tradition of cities. From an economic point of view, the tourism companies that manage the routes within the Spanish cemeteries place more emphasis on the legend about the deceased person than on the architecture of the pantheon.

From 1987 to the present, the Council of Europe has recognised 32 European Cultural Routes, of which around twenty have a section of their itinerary in Spain. Among them is the European Cemeteries Route, which became part of the list in 2010 by proposal of the ASCE. The route comprises a total of 67 cemeteries in 54 cities (mainly large cities such as Paris, Milan, Vienna, and Prague) of 20 European countries. The main purpose of the European Cemeteries Route is to raise awareness about European funerary heritage and the customs, traditions and funerary art representative of the European continent in the last two centuries, as well as to provide a vision of recent history. However, it also aims to promote quality cultural tourism by offering new sites, while establishing transnational cooperation among European countries to: encourage restoration of funerary landscape, provide an itinerary that not only offers a route to visit but a tool for knowledge and continued research . . . and promote education in schools, incorporating the Route to their ordinary cultural visits in a dynamic and pedagogical manner. (European Cemeteries Route 2017)

As a tourism product, the cemeteries route represents an alternative to and/or complements the existing supply. One of the characteristics of the route is that it is aimed at all segments of the public; not only citizens who live in the cities where the cemeteries on the route are located, but also other domestic and international tourists, students, and diverse groups. In addition, the cemetery routes combine cultural heritage with natural heritage. The spatial contexts where cemeteries are located, and their often botanical splendour, convert these sites into parks and/or gardens for public enjoyment. Without question, discovering European cemeteries involves delving into the history and identity of Europe, in continental, regional, and local terms. The tangible and intangible heritage of which they are custodians highlights the anthropological reality of the diversity of European communities through the inevitability of death and how it is dealt with. In June 2011, the ASCE was awarded the Ulysses Prize for the promotion of the European Cemeteries Route by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Cemeteries are sacred and emotional spaces, yet simultaneously they are witnesses to local history in cities and towns. They are also a common feature of every city and town in Europe, which highlights their cultural and religious identity.

Cemeteries are part of our tangible heritage, owing to their buildings, sculptures, engravings, and even their urban planning. In turn, cemeteries also form part of our intangible heritage, our anthropological reality, by supporting the environment surrounding the rituals and practices of death.

Both tangible and intangible aspects constitute funerary heritage. Cemeteries provide unique settings in which to discover part of our historical memories. They are sites that help us to remember events in local history that communities do not wish to or should never forget; events that we have a duty to preserve and transmit to future generations.

The European Cemeteries Route refers to cemeteries as ‘places of life’, environments that, as urban spaces, are directly linked to the history and culture of the community to which they belong and where we can find many of our references.

The importance of the European Cemeteries Route lies in its multicultural diversity, which is primarily attributable to the interaction between its members rather than the simple value of its individual parts.

In Spain, the most significant cemeteries are found in the regions of Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, and Andalusia.

  • The municipal cemetery of La Carriona in Avilés, Asturias, dates back to the late nineteenth century and abounds with allegorical sculptures.

  • The cemetery of Ciriego in Santander, Cantabria, was built by many of the finest local architects and stonemasons and is an excellent example of late nineteenth century funerary art.

  • The Basque Country has two unique cemeteries. The cemetery of Bilbao houses one of the major funerary art groups in Spain; a reflection of the golden age of Basque art during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Polloe Cemetery in San Sebastián boasts majestic pantheons and is the last resting place of one of the most important champions of women's rights in Spain, Clara Campoamor.

    • Catalonia is the region with the most significant cemeteries. There are nine in total, of which eight are located in the province of Barcelona. One of them is the municipal cemetery of Vilanova i la Geltrú, with numerous Art Nouveau tombs. Both here and in the cemetery of Sant Sebastià, in Sitges, the great pantheons of the Indianos (Spanish emigrants who went to America in search of fortune and came back rich) abound and were sculptured by some of the most famous funerary artists of the day. Another Art Nouveau cemetery in the province is the cemetery of Arenys de Mar. Other specific examples are the new cemetery of Igualada and Los Capuchinos Cemetery in Mataró. The former is a 'conceptual cemetery' rather than a traditional one where the site has been transformed into a park whose tombs blend into the surroundings. The uniqueness of this cemetery earned it the FAD Architecture Award in 1992. Mataró Cemetery is housed in a former Capuchin convent whose first burials date back to 1817, consecrated in its majestic pantheons. The cemetery of Vilafranca del Penedés also has Capuchin origins. It was built in 1839 on the site of one of the order's monasteries and is home to many remarkable buildings. In the city of Barcelona, tourists can visit two exceptional cemeteries: the city's first cemetery, Poblenou, which was opened in 1775, and Montjuïc. Together, they represent a surprisingly little known side of the city's artistic heritage. And lastly, also in Catalonia, the cemetery of Lloret de Mar is located in the province of Girona. This cemetery is an example of the sensitivity of the Art Nouveau funerary sculpture and architectural movement.

    • Valencia boasts the old Elche cemetery, which was built in the early nineteenth century. In its pantheons and buildings visitors are presented with a variety of architectural styles including Neoclassical, Neo-Mudéjar, Neo-Romanesque, and Neo-Gothic. Due to its later extension, there are even examples of Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture and sculptures.

    • Andalusia has a rich funerary heritage, including a large number of cemeteries that are of interest not only due to their artistic-historical importance, but also because the great and the good from Andalusian and Spanish history are buried here. They are individuals whose contribution to society, each in their own field, led to an important step or change in society. Monumental pantheons, chapels, tombs, sculptures, temples, gardens, new technologies tailored to cemeteries and visitors can all be found in each of the cemeteries that constitute the Andalusian Cemeteries Route, also known as known as 'Memories of Andalusia'. Every one of these cemeteries is full of history, and associated with the afterlife, chilling legends, and strange events. The cemetery of Monturque, in the province of Cordoba, is the only cemetery in Spain to have an archaeological area granted Heritage of Cultural Interest status. It also has Roman cisterns, engineering works that can be visited and remained hidden for more than a thousand years. The cisterns were discovered in the nineteenth century when a cholera epidemic forced the cemetery to expand. The Mundamortis Festival is held every year in the city, and is one of the biggest autumn events in the province. The annual festival is held from 31 October to 3 November in various locations around Cordoba and attracts an increasing number of Spanish and international visitors. The festival's longstanding theme, 'Death, Cemeteries and Tourism' reflects the festival's vision of sharing the region's multicultural aspects with local people and visitors from around the world. Nuestra Señora de la Salud is another cemetery located in the heart of the city of Cordoba, which is complete with pantheons, freestanding sculptures, and reliefs that date back to the last third of the nineteenth century. Styles range from Neoclassical to Neo-Gothic, with many other styles in between including Art Nouveau. The cemetery is the last resting place of famous bullfighters such as Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez ('Manolete') and Rafael Molina Sánchez ('Lagartijo'). The cemetery in another Andalusian province, Granada, forms part of the Alhambra monument and is very close to the entrance of the Nasrid Palaces. It preserves the archaeological remains of the Arab Palace of Alixares (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries), a small fort, and a canalisation system built in the early nineteenth century. The Cementerio Inglés (Cemetery of Saint George) in Malaga is the oldest non-Catholic Christian cemetery in Spain. It was conceived as a garden cemetery and its romantic style, a variant of the landscaped garden, is characterised by the disorderly arrangement of the flora which helps to diffuse the tombs in the natural landscape.

The Spanish cemeteries included in the European Cemeteries Route. The cemeteries are San Amaro (La Coruña); San Froilán (Lugo); La Carriona (Avilés); Ciriego (Santander); Bilbao and Polloe (San Sebastián); Reus (Tarragona); San Sebastiá (Sitges); Igualada, Montjuïc, and Poblenou (Barcelona); Capuchinos (Mataró); Arenys de Mar and Lloret de Mar (Catalonia); Valencia (Valencia); Sant Antoni Abat (Alcoy); Nuestra Señora de la Salud and Monturque (Cordoba); Granada; the Cemetery of Saint George (Cementario Inglés, Málaga), and La Almudena (Madrid).


Data were collected via random sampling and a quantitative survey of individuals who engage in dark tourism (cemetery tourism) in Andalusia. The survey comprises 24 items grouped into four blocks. The first block contains information about the visit (how the visit could be improved, price, main objective of the visit, how you found out about the route). The second block contains questions about the location of other cemeteries that supply dark tourism (knowledge of other cemeteries, questions about the development of sites that supply dark tourism, etc.). The third block includes items related to the respondents motivation and opinions regarding cemetery visits and management. And the fourth block collects personal data about the tourist (age, level of education, sex, income, origin, etc.).

Table 1: Survey data sheet
Supply Survey
Target populationIndividuals over 16 who have engaged in dark tourism (cemeteries) in Andalusia
Sampling size532 valid surveys
Sampling error± 4.3%
Confidence interval95%; p=q=0.5
Fieldwork periodOctober 2016–March 2017

Source: The authors

The survey items aim to capture the measures and indicators proposed for the analysis of cemetery tourism demand. Four types of questions were used: yes/no questions to determine visitors’ perception about certain aspects relating to dark tourism; 5-point Likert scale items to evaluate dark tourism; open and closed questions that allow visitors to comment on their tourism experience and, lastly, statistical questions relating primarily to travel expenses, income levels, age, etc.

Determining the target population (tourists) was complex and the distribution of the sample was based on the number of cemeteries that form part of the European Cemeteries Route, known as the significant cemeteries of Andalusia or the Andalusian Cemeteries Route known as ‘Memories of Andalusia’.

However, it should be noted that the Andalusian cemeteries included in the route are managed differently. Each one is independent from the other and they do not cooperate with one another or share a common organisational scheme. Furthermore, although lines of transnational cooperation have been established via the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe, this aspect is somewhat vague in the cultural landscape in which the four Andalusian cemeteries are located (Tarrés and Gil 2016).


A descriptive analysis of the results reveals that tourists who engage in dark tourism in the Andalusian Cemeteries Route are aged from 26 to 40 (57.5%) and have a higher education (52.6%). These results are similar to those obtained by Carrión (2016) for the cemetery of Yungay in Peru. In addition, the tourists are primarily single (44.1%), female (59.3%), and generally visit cemeteries to learn about the tombs and everything relating to the death of the famous individuals buried there. According to Korstanje (2014), dark tourism sites are places of trauma that impact visitors and heighten their awareness about mass death under conditions of vulnerability of others.

The findings reveal that individuals primarily find out about this type of tourism via the Internet and social media (50.7%). However, the percentage of online demand for information about dark tourism as a tourist attraction is still low (10.9%). The results also reveal that dark tourism is not a well-publicised product in brochures or by tour operators. This coincides with the results obtained by Mohd et al. (2016) for Malaysia. In their study, the authors concluded that tour operators will not dedicate excessive marketing to dark tourism as a new tourism product until demand increases.

The main motivation for cemetery tourism is the constant quest for new experiences (47.6%). This is one of the main motivations described by Carrasco, Padilla and Melgar (2015), given that individuals express a need to escape from the monotony of their daily routine (Krippendorf 1986).

Regarding the evaluation of tourism management in the cemeteries visited, 66.2% of the respondents stated that the cemetery was well managed and 96.6% considered that the Andalusian Cemeteries Route should be combined with other sites in the community that also supply dark tourism. Nevertheless, there is a high degree of satisfaction with the route (94.3% of the respondents indicated a satisfaction rate of over 75%) and the majority (64.5%) would repeat the experience on a similar route.

Table 2: Univariate analysis of the results from the survey on tourists who engage in cemetery tourism in Andalusia
A. Questions about the visitNumber of people in your group who went on the tour1 person 4.4%
2 to 4 people73.6%
More than 4 people21.9%
Has the cemetery route met your expectations?Yes93.4%
What would you improve?Nothing 30.7%
More audiovisual media26.2%
Printed handouts about the route25.2%
Historical information9.1%
Would you be interested in receiving more information after the visit?Yes, if it’s free46.2%
Yes, in any event27.0%
I don’t need it26.6%
Did you come especially for the visit, or were you offered it during your stay in Andalusia?I came especially55.5%
It was by chance, I was offered it44.4%
Do you think the route was good value for money?Yes86.5%
How did you find out about the route?Via the Internet, on dark tourism websites10.9%
Via the internet, on social media50.7%
Recommended by family and/or friends28.2%
Printed handouts2.2%
Other7.8 %
B. Questions about dark tourism sitesAre you aware that there are similar routes in other Spanish regions?Yes 54.8%
Have you been on any other dark tourism routes in Andalusia?Yes21.4%
Do you think using dark tourism as a selling point to visit Andalusia is a good thing?Yes89.8%
I lack information, I can’t comment2.2%
In your opinion as a customer, what is the main barrier to the promotion of dark tourism sites?Lack of coordination between public bodies.12.4%
Lack of interest of public bodies. They are not interested in dark tourism.55.2%
Lack of private local initiative. Businesses don’t support this type of tourism.22.1%
Others (please specify)10.1%
C. Questions about the motivation of the visitWhat is your main reason for visiting the site?Experience something new47.6%
Discover historic funerary monuments and remains32.6%
Morbid curiosity about death15.7%
Searching for identity3.2%
How would you rate the management of the site you’ve just visited?Good66.2%
Do you think it would be a good idea to create a route that combined cemetery visits with other dark tourism sites in Andalusia?Yes, I agree96.6%
No, I don’t agree. I prefer to visit just one site not several.3.3%
D. Questions about other aspects of dark tourismAge range Under 181.1%
18 to 2519.1%
26 to 4057.5%
Over 4022.2%
Level of education No formal education3.4%
Compulsory education (up to the age of 16)22.5%
Secondary school (16+)21.4%
Higher Education52.6%
Sex Male40.6%
Marital StatusSingle44.1%
Family monthly income levelUnder €1,00030.1%
€1,001 - €1,500 37.4%
€1,501- €2,000 15.8%
€2,001- €2,500 8.5%
Over €2,5008.1%
Who have you come here with? Unaccompanied2.2%
Where are you from?Andalusia78.3%
Spain (not Andalusia)17.1 %
Europe 4.5 %
Other country (not Europe)0.1%
Would you repeat the experience at another site?Yes64.4%
Level of satisfaction with the visit 0 - 25%2.2%
25% - 50%1.1%
51- 75%2.2%
76% - 99%37.2%

Source: The authors

However, the results show that the Andalusian Cemeteries Route still attracts very little foreign tourism (4.6%), a far cry from the profile of other cemeteries such as the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, where the percentage of foreign tourism is over 80%.

In order to deepen our understanding of the results between the different variables, a bivariate analysis was performed. Considering as null hypothesis H0 that the analyzed variables are independent, and as alternative hypothesis H1 that the variables are related, and using the χ2 statistic, the following results were obtained: a strong correlation was found between the age of the tourist and the degree of satisfaction with the cemeteries route (χ2 = 36.7, p = 0.00). Specifically, younger tourists value the routes more positively. Age is also a decisive factor when it comes to learning about the route (χ2 = 27.5, p = 0.00). Younger tourists use new technologies, the Internet, social networks, and tourism websites, while older tourists usually learn about the route through recommendations from family and friends.

However, no correlation was found between the motivation for the visit and age (χ2 = 1.3, p = 0.87), motivation for the visit and gender (χ2 = 0.4, p = 0.67), and motivation for the visit and marital status (χ2 = 2.1, p = 0.79).

Cemetery tourism is a niche market that is not sufficiently exploited in Andalusia and, therefore, has great potential for development. Combined with other forms of dark tourism, it could generate wealth and expand cultural supply in Andalusia.


Andalusian cemeteries form part of the European Cemeteries Route due to their large number of funerary monuments, architectural beauty, and landscape design. These significant Andalusian cemeteries, known as the ‘Memories of Andalusia’ route, constitute a tourism product that is yet to be exploited in the region.

Foreign tourism on the cemetery route is limited, but could be boosted by combining this supply with other forms of dark tourism. In addition, because of the singularity of this type of tourism (Rybakova 2013), more and better marketing via social media and the Internet could attract a greater number of tourists, as well as increase the supply for foreign tour operators. Such measures would potentially increase commercial activity in the immediate area surrounding the dark tourism site, thus enhancing trade for hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc. (Gibson 2006).

The profile of cemetery tourists in Andalusian is that of young individuals with university studies who are seeking new experiences. Tourists who have engaged in this type of tourism are very satisfied with the experience and would repeat it by visiting other cemetery routes. In sum, the dark tourist is a loyal tourist, who, if supplied with a quality product, would be willing to pay for it.

If other cemeteries, such as those in Prague or France, which form part of the same European network as the Andalusian cemeteries, receive hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, we must ask ourselves why the cemeteries in Andalusia are not attracting the same numbers of tourists or are less well known. The lack of promotion and coordination between public and private entities in managing this resource has meant that many cemeteries have fallen into oblivion, as is the case in Cordoba. It also means that both the human and economic resources invested in becoming part of the European Cemeteries Route are being squandered.

This study has shown that there is a demand for this type of tourism, which is being satisfied. In addition, tourists think that dark tourism in Andalusia may attract more cultural tourism, and that it would be very positive if a route that combined cemetery visits with other dark tourism sites were created in this region. However, it is important to identify both the current and potential supply, being a limitation of the study, to predict the future demand of people doing dark tourism, to be able to carry out an adequate strategy and planning and that all stakeholders join efforts to achieve the same results as other European cemeteries.



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