Servicescape Management at Heritage Tourism Sites: From Dark Tourism Sites to Socially-Symbolic Servicescapes

  • Roxana Magee

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study sought to evaluate the nature, scope and management of dark heritage sites. The empirical study was carried out at six memorial sites and museums associated with the Holocaust and other Nazi Germany atrocities, situated in both victim and perpetrator countries. These included sites of and associated with death. Two core literatures provided the theoretical underpinning of the study: dark tourism and servicescape management. The literature on dark tourism reveals the complexity and multi-faceted nature and scope of dark tourism phenomena; the expanded servicescape framework was evaluated and applied to the context of dark tourism site management. A conceptual model was constructed from the fusion of the two strands of academic literature to guide the empirical research. A qualitative multicase methodology was employed. Multi-methods were used to collect data at six sites, which enabled the detailed examination of both the complexity and particular nature of each case, as well as allowing for cross-case analysis and evaluation. The six (dark) heritage tourism sites were revealed to be complex and dynamic servicescapes. Site managers indicated that there were many challenges regarding the maintenance of sites and in making them relevant for today’s visitors. Unlike previous decades, the majority of visitors today have no direct personal links to the sites (this history). The study illustrates the inadequacy of the academic terminology of ‘dark tourism’ in the context of sites of and associated with death and genocide. Instead, these sites were perceived to be dynamic, participative and elevated servicescapes focusing on respecting the dignity of the victims, honouring their sacrifice, preserving and displaying the sites, and delivering a clear educational offering that cultivates social conscience at both individual and collective levels. The managed dark heritage servicescape has the capacity to deliver a cultural experience that bridges the past and present, presenting potential value beyond the on-site encounter for both the visitor (individual level) and society (collective level) and allowing a gaze to the future.
Date of AwardApr 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAudrey Gilmore (Supervisor)


  • Servicescape Management
  • Expanded Servicescape
  • Authenticity
  • Heritage Tourism Marketing
  • Dark Tourism

Cite this