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Lesson aim

To understand what dark tourism is and how people interact with hazardous landscapes for tourism.

Lesson objectives

  1. To know what dark tourism is

  2. To understand about Vesuvius as a tourist site

  3. To discuss how these interactions shape what people think about hazards and place

  4. To think about how images, language and stories shape these interactions


Ask pupils to discuss and note down what they think dark tourism is, and examples of places they have been, or know about, that may count as a dark tourist site. Pupils can then read this short article from National Geographic and note down what they identify.

Is dark tourism OK? (National Geographic, 2016)

Main activities

This exercise focuses on how the volcano, Vesuvius, became a tourist site, especially when it is erupting and how it has been experienced throughout history.

Watch the following videos, and discuss as a group:

  • Do you think the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum understood the environmental risk of living near Vesuvius?

  • Explain the ways you think these communities may have learned about their changing landscape.

You can also look at a nineteenth century volume called Sketches of Vesuvius of plates that show tourists visiting Vesuvius during eruptions.

As a group research the ways this practice has changed and reported. For example, there are numerous vlogs by YouTubers and Influencers available, documenting their visit to Pompeii.

Examine the resources you can find, and use your own research to discuss how and why visitors may have enjoyed experiencing this risks associated with Pompeii.

  • How are these experiences sold to consumers?

  • What kinds of language is used to describe these locations?

  • What sorts of images are used?

  • How do these materials indicate a different perception of risk?


Pupils should revisit the question posed by the article: is ‘Dark Tourism’ OK? Discuss their answers knowing they have engaged with materials. Reflect specifically on importance of diverse stories about environmental risk.

Extra reading