It’s not always about poverty – new types of slum tourism
As I mentioned in my previous post, many slum tours tell a story of poverty and indeed poverty is nearly always associated with slum tourism. Two new forms of tourism may cause people to question what exactly constitutes slum tourism. Firstly there is the latest addition to tourism in Soweto. This is one of the most often visited townships in South Africa. Although the majority of international tourists still go on a township tour, they now can also go there to do bungee jumping and tower swinging. The activities are based around the Orlando Power Station towers and are promoted as one of the most exciting ways to see the township.
These activities are very different from the average township tour and it would certainly be interesting to see what kind of tourists do these tours and how their expectations and experiences compares to the more usual forms of township tourism.
It’s not only in Cape Town however that new and different forms of slum tourism are being developed. Accoring to this newspaper article an Australian businessman has plans to build 10 luxury villas in the high parts of Vidigal favela in Rio de Janeiro. According to him the attraction would not so much be poverty, but more the excellent views on the bay and beaches. This favela also attracts tourists for its “funky parties“. This is very different from watching the poor that slum tourism is so often associated with.
While there certainly are many potential ethical problems with these types of slum tourism as well, it does show how slum tourism is evolving and diversifying beyond looking at poverty. However, probably due to their novelty these new types of tourism and their impacts are hardly recognised and not yet investigated much by those working in the field of slum tourism.