Monday, March 10, 2008


"Slum tourism, or “poorism,” as some call it, is catching on. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the townships of Johannesburg to the garbage dumps of Mexico, tourists are forsaking, at least for a while, beaches and museums for crowded, dirty — and in many ways surprising — slums. When a British man named Chris Way founded Reality Tours and Travel in Mumbai two years ago, he could barely muster enough customers for one tour a day. Now, he’s running two or three a day and recently expanded to rural areas.

Slum tourism isn’t for everyone. Critics charge that ogling the poorest of the poor isn’t tourism at all. It’s voyeurism. The tours are exploitative, these critics say, and have no place on an ethical traveler’s itinerary.

Even critics of slum tourism concede it allows a few dollars to trickle into the shantytowns, but say that’s no substitute for development programs.

Mr. Fennell, the professor of tourism in Ontario, wonders whether the relatively minuscule tourist revenue can make a difference. “If you’re so concerned about helping these people, then write a check,” he said."

The poor have no privacy.

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