Whether ghosts are fact or fiction hasn't stopped some entrepreneurs from cashing in on the public's fascination with these otherworldly apparitions. All across the U.S. ghost tourism is a growing business. VOA accompanied a group of brave ghost seekers to the old historic town of Leesburg, Virginia outside of Washington, DC. Jim Bertel narrates the story.

It is well past midnight in old town Leesburg, Virginia. And the only ones brave enough to stir in the dark are a group of tourists eager to catch a glimpse of beings many of us would prefer never to encounter -- ghosts. Near a tree outside Leesburg's old courthouse, the ghost of a soldier has reportedly been seen several times. With luck, these tourists might just get to encounter the soldier's specter. But ghost tour guides say this phantom is known to be moody and very few have experienced the cold clammy feeling of being near his ghost.

Ghost tourist Ann Clark says, "You know nothing scares me about all this, so I just find it very interesting."

In the United States, like in many countries around the world, ghosts stories may be regarded as mere superstition, but for some people the thrill of seeking out the supernatural makes the adventure worthwhile! Ghost tours also serve as an opportunity for those who want to share their own ghostly experiences or, like Beth Pierre, hear the stories of others.

?It's just one of the things that I have always found interesting,? she says. ?Too many things I have heard about and people telling me things that they have seen or experienced and I know that these people aren't crazy.

In America, ghost tourism is a growing industry. Not only are thousands of ghost tours operated every year, there are also Internet competitions to select the scariest ghost tour of the year.

Unfortunately, on this night, the Leesburg ghost tour could not persuade the local spirits to come out. But with their ?never say die? attitude, you can be sure these ghost tourists will be back again.