As adventures fall short for the international travelers, a new trend emerges out of the graves and debris of the meager slums in the world. They call it “Slum Tourism” OR “Poor tourism”. For those who fancy a chance to see how the other half of the world lives without the luxurious amenities of life, goes to these special tours to the underprivileged neighborhood of the world. The impoverished areas in the world like the African countries or the remote areas in the Indian sub-continent top the chart of this innovative travel trend, popularly called as poor tourism. Some examples of the poor tourism trends include a trip to the Bronx, Brazil’s Favelas, the townships of South Africa and New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. While this type of tourism strives for authenticity, some are coming out and saying it is unethical and exploitative voyeurism.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals in developing countries are increasing and tourism is gaining importance as a driver of development, exports and jobs. Tourists increasingly look for cultural and natural attractions in rural areas, thereby increasing the scope for poverty reduction in developing countries due to their comparative advantage. In addition, UNWTO argues that more women and young people, who are proportionally more disadvantaged, find jobs within this poor tourism structure.
With the advent of “Poorism” or Poor tourism, it arguably becomes unethical and exploiting at times. Consider a situation where a group of travelers get inside the house of a local family to experience their living standards. Isn’t it really pathetic and demeaning for that family? With the boom of this tourism comes a wave of disapproval. The way the tours are run becomes especially questionable when the tours are led with no interaction with the people and when none of the profits are put back into the community. It’s not all tours to impoverished areas that are misrepresenting the area that they’re visiting, several slum tours have won prizes for their responsible and sustainable tourism because they actually try to improve the local situations and they try to paint a different picture and show people that it’s actually an area where people live. And while some people are motivated to slums via their quest for something exotic, there are still people who go because of moral reasons and who want to see the whole context of a country they love.
With pros and cons of the poor tourism coming in the fore front of the world and the educated society, it becomes the duty of the affluent class to monitor and influence the practices which will inevitably augment the growth of the rural areas in the world. The implementation of sustainable tourism, adventure tourism in the remote areas should be blended in the right proportion to bring in the best results. UNWTO and the other travel association of the world should take keen interest in this developing travel trend of the world, popularly indicated as “Poor Tourism”.
The article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’. Please join the online Views On Tourism network and discussion group in order to achieve personal goals as well as encourage a sustainable tourism development in Bangladesh and South Asia. Read more about this group and how to become a member here.