The slum tourism, which is often referred to as “ghetto tourism,” involves tourism to impoverished areas, particularly in India, Brazil, Kenya, and Indonesia. The purpose of slum tourism is to provide tourists the opportunity to witness the interior or mostly areas that are not frequently visited of a country or city.
Slum tourism, how it started and evolved throughout the years?
Slum tourism is not a new concept and so far it has gained some international notoriety in a few years. However, it was earlier said that during the mid-1800s rich people would travel to the squalid tenements of the East End. Mostly, the early visits began under the guise of “charity,” but over the next few decades, the practice spread to the tenements of different cities like New York and Chicago.
However, along with the rising demands, tour operators developed guides to tour these impoverished neighbourhoods. The slum tourism, or seeing how mostly the people of abandoned areas lived, died off in the mid-1900s, but regained popularity in South Africa due to apartheid. This tourism, though, was driven by the oppressed Black South Africans who wanted the world to understand their plight.
But, the success of the renowned movie, “Slumdog Millionaire” brought India’s poverty to the world’s attention and slum tourism expanded to slums like Dharavi which is considered to be India’s largest slum. Though the tours existed long before the movie, but this film has seemed to increase their popularity, and this wonderful creation became a reference point for what people expected to see there.
Now, the question arises, can slum tourism be safe or not?
And, the answer to this question is that everyone needs to do proper research, also choose the location wisely. As while choosing a slum tour, guests should use due diligence to determine if a tour is licensed, has a good reputation on review sites and follows local guidelines.
Nowadays, slum tourism has grown into a legitimate global industry, bringing in over a million tourists per year. Different tour operators now offer visits to places like the townships of Cape Town and Johannesburg, the favelas of Rio, the slums of Mumbai and New Delhi, etc.
Furthermore, modern tourists want an authentic experience, not the white-washed tourist zones that were so popular in the 1980s. Slum tourism meets this desire, offering a look into the world beyond their personal experience.
Also, most of the slum tours usually consist of visits to various project sites, where various NGOs or similar organizations are working in the community in places like schools, educational centers, and of course, orphanages.
Moreover, these sites are chosen to show tourists what is being done to improve the condition of that community, and sometimes include suggestions as to how they can lend their support, if they so choose. And, one of the major impacts of slum tourism is the change of perception they often facilitate.
Thus, more or less the slum tourism sparks considerable debate around an uncomfortable moral dilemma. No matter how it is addressed, be it slum tours, reality tours, adventure tourism, poverty tourism, etc.
As there are many who consider this practice little more than slack-jawed privileged people gawking at those less fortunate. Others argue that they raise awareness and provide numerous examples of giving back to the local communities. Should tourists simply keep.