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Plymouth, Montserrat: apocalyptic dark tourism at the Pompeii of the Caribbean

Jonathan Skinner (Department of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton, London, UK)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 27 March 2018

Issue publication date: 26 April 2018




The purpose of this paper is to present contrasting approaches to the descriptive case study of tourism to the buried city of Plymouth, Montserrat, an example of the marketing and burying – the supply and demand – of apocalyptic dark tourism on the island.


A case study mixed-methods methodology is adopted, and findings are derived from tour guiding fieldwork, guide and tourist interviews, and an analysis of travel writing and tourism marketing campaigns.


Dark tourism is viewed as a contentious and problematic concept: it attracts and repels tourism to the former capital Plymouth, Montserrat. After 20 years of the volcano crisis, the islanders, government and Tourist Board are commemorating resilience living with the volcano and regeneration in a disaster scenario. Marketing and consumption approaches to dark tourism elucidate different facets to the case study of “the buried city” of Plymouth, Montserrat, and the Montserrat Springs Hotel overlooking Plymouth. The disjunct between these two types of approach to dark tourism, as well as the different criteria attached to working definitions of dark tourism – and the range of interests in apocalyptic dark tourism into the city and its surrounds – show some of the problems and limitations with theoretical and scalar discussions on dark tourism.

Research limitations/implications

The paper’s implications are that both supply and demand approaches to dark tourism are needed to fully understand a dark tourism destination and to reconcile the disjunct between these two approaches and the perspectives of tourist industry and tourism users.


This is a descriptive dark tourism case study of a former capital city examined from both supply and demand perspectives. It introduces the apocalyptic to dark tourism destination analysis.



Skinner, J. (2018), "Plymouth, Montserrat: apocalyptic dark tourism at the Pompeii of the Caribbean", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 123-139.



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Copyright © 2018, International Tourism Studies Association

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