For several years now, remembrance tourism has been developing its offer on an international scale with the human element and emotion at the heart of the journey. Tourist organisations and sites are responding to this new demand from visitors by highlighting the places where the great dramatic events of our history took place; battles, political acts, repressions or major natural disasters.
Going to the Verdun memorial and imagining life in the trenches of 14-18, visiting the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, discovering Omaha beach and the Normandy landing beaches or soaking up the atmosphere at Ground Zero in New York… What is it that drives tourists to explore the world through its painful history?
It is likely that the new generations who visit these places, wish to better understand the mistakes of the past and the enslavement of man by man throughout the ages. Memorial sites are evidence of the battles fought and a lesson for the future. They allow us to value the courage of our elders through their struggles, as well as to rediscover the values that bind our societies together and thus to act positively on our consciences.
If, however, many accusing glances are directed towards tourists operating a form of voyeurism, it is essential to understand beyond that; to walk, why not alone, the winding paths of the complexity of these places of memory. Each of us is in fact called upon to find meaning in them. Visiting these battlefields, forts or military cemeteries attracts both history buffs and tourists of all ages who want to better understand the terrible history of past generations. Some of them also seek to find their roots by making a pilgrimage to the grave of a grandfather.
The territories of memory offer a historical and moving journey to remember and immerse oneself in a subject. It is therefore possible to plan more than just a visit to these areas and to experience an adventure lasting several days in search of the emotion of the past.
This territory is a mecca for remembrance tourism located between Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg. This land of discovery covers the history of the two world wars, the inter-war period and the foundations of today’s Europe. It is home to many museums and sites that call for awareness and contemplation. This destination is located in a beautiful natural environment, so it is possible to combine remembrance tourism with other more traditional tourist activities.
Many descendants of African slaves take part in pilgrimages to Africa to find their roots and understand what their ancestors experienced. Benin has created a circuit of memory that leads to the Door of No Return and allows one to follow all the stages of the terrible journey experienced by so many men and women in the 17th and 19th centuries.
A family visit to the D-Day landing beaches is a good example of a holiday dedicated to remembrance tourism. Indeed, families have the possibility to follow a travel itinerary and to discover, with their children, the highlights of the D-Day landings. In addition, there are many other activities that can complement this remembrance trip.
In addition to visiting historical sites, cemeteries and memorials, places or destinations of remembrance now offer experiences to immerse oneself and travel back in time, as close as possible to the emotion of the past.
Remembrance tourism thus responds to a growing demand from the public who wish to understand history directly at the places where it was made. Tourists feel the atmosphere and emotion of the place, and discover the reality of the life of the men and women of the time. Remembrance tourism has grown over the years to offer new generations exciting journeys towards understanding the world and its complexity.
Remembrance tourism destinations or sites sometimes convey a message that is difficult to hear, but we believe that it is possible to communicate with enthusiasm on such difficult subjects. Indeed, hard times are often the source of periods of strong progress, unity and hope. The role of memorial sites is also to transmit an optimistic and pacifist vision of the future and of our present society to visitors.
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