Today, manufacturing ghost detecting equipment and devices is a huge industry in itself. But believe it or not, there are other ghost “industries” which surpass it and mind you, we’re focusing mainly on the cores and not the essential very important and highly lucrative ancillaries like advertising and marketing, etc. Take for example ghost tourism/ghost tours. Here’s an excerpt from Travel Channel:  ‘World’s Spookiest Ghost Tours. Brace yourself for the ultimate, most spooky ghost tours! As thrilling as ghost tours are
some places have taken their ghost tours to a whole new level—with guest participation. Check out a variety of truly scary ghost tours, where ghost enthusiasts can spend the night in haunted places, experience paranormal activity with ghost-detecting devices and communicate with the dead. These are the ultimate, interactive ghost experiences!”

And here’s another peek into how ghost tours are presented and sold to hook visitors: Not for the faint of heart! At Hack Green Nuclear Bunker, one of the UK’s most secret defense sites, paranormal tours are held in complete darkness. The bunker’s site has been home to many battles and deaths for more than 500 years. The bunker itself is a vast underground labyrinth of corridors and creepy rooms with paranormal investigations and tours ending around 4 a.m., though times can be extended upon request. Ghost fans can bring their own sound-recording equipment should they want to capture the voice of the Commanding Officer, a tall, broad-shouldered, intimidating ghost who has been spotted standing in doorways. Also keep an eye out for 2 ghost dogs, one of which supposedly bit a medium.

In its “43 Most Haunted Places in the World That Are Beautifully Scary”, Caitlin Morton, writing for  Conde Nast Traveler, also lists two haunted places from India—Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan and a five star Mumbai hotel. Dubbed one of the best hotels in India
, the five-star Taj Mahal Palace is located right in the heart of Mumbai. Yet along with amazing views and interiors fit for a royal, one of the hotel’s more macabre claims to fame is its aura of mystery, writes Morton. According to legend, the building’s architect jumped to his death from the fifth floor after discovering the hotel was facing the wrong direction. His spirit now roams the halls, running into guests in the hallways and walking around the roof.

There is a widespread belief that the Catacombs of Paris are one of the most haunted places on Earth and also one of the top destinations for ghost hunters. In 1780, after heavy rains flooded cemeteries, heaps of rotting bones and corpses were unearthed. In a 12-year project, some 6 million bodies were relocated in the city’s former limestone quarries, now famous as the Catacombs of Paris. Writing about the “Top 10 Ghost Tours” for “HowStuffWorks”, Sarah Winkler and Mark Boyer note that the bones of millions of people were fashioned into elaborate walls and pillars of skulls and bones.

According to the Catacombs of Paris Museum, ‘you can descend more than 60 feet or 18.29 meters underground to behold floor-to-ceiling stacks of bones, and you can stroll more than 1 mile or 1.6 kilometers of underground tunnels and view the remains of more than 6 million souls.’ Whittaker  has written that visitors to the subterranean site have reported the feeling of being touched by invisible hands, being followed, and some have even felt the sensation of being strangled
the Catacombs have made more than a few visitors shake in their boots.

To generate interest and money, ghosts don’t always have to be real. Earlier this month, Gabbi Shaw, writing in the Insider asked: “Do you believe in ghosts? If not, you might change your mind after visiting the tiny town of Lukova and its long-abandoned church filled with eerie white figures. They sit solemnly in the pews, congregate at the altar, and stand at the doorways, as if to beckon you inside.” Shaw goes onto reveal that St. George’s church, built in the 14th century, sits atop a hill in the Czech village of Lukova, a small town 2 1/2 hours outside of Prague. It was abandoned in 1968 after the roof collapsed during a funeral. This contributed to locals believing the building was haunted or even cursed.

The church was left to rot, until the community decided to try and save it. However, no one could come up with the money. But in 2012, Jakub Hadrava, a local artist, playing off its haunted history created 32 life-sized “ghosts” to live inside the church, giving the entire space a spooky atmosphere. Visitors from all over the world have come to see the ghosts of St. George’s church and a  YouTube video on it has over 220,000 views today. Tourists have donated thousands of dollars to help repair the church’s roof. Shaw writes that the church’s caretaker, Petr Koukl, told “Lonely Planet” in September 2018 that tourists had raised more than 600,000 koruna, or almost $26,000, for renovations.

If ghost tours are a big draw and big business all over the world, ghost movies and TV shows are no less magnetic or less money spinning.  American productions alone of ghost movies number more than 500. Then there is a mind boggling range and variety of ghost books. There are ghost books for adults, for kids, for pre-school children, books about ghosts and romance, ghosts in towns, ghosts on ships, ghost novels etc, etc… an almost endless but most fascinating list. Many of them are on best selling lists, and most of them have online editions, including books/novellas featuring ghosts by classical masters like Charles Dickens, such as The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain  first published in 1848. Ghost games don’t lag far behind. There are ghost games videos, ghost games for androids. ghost games for PC’s, for kids, etc, etc.

I’ll conclude by asserting that rather than creating or being a multi-million dollar industry, it’s more like ghosts today are at the centre of a multi-billion dollar industry. And given the ever increasing reach of the internet, popularity of social media and the constantly expanding interest in the supernatural, it’s not only boom time right now for this multi-billion dollar ghost industry but the prospects for further growth appear to be limitless. That does, indeed call for a cheer, a toast, to the extraordinary money spinning power of ghosts. Yet there are several aspects of this tremendous, almost incredible power which are most intriguing and raise deeper questions, but you’ll have to wait for them till the next column.