Slum tourism and city branding in Medellin

Cable carts in Medellin, Colombia

Most attention to slum tourism in Latin America focuses upon visits to the Brazilian favelas. Tourism in other countries is much less common and has received hardly any attention. However, recently an insightful article was published on the internet regarding the notion of tourism to Medellin, Colombia. It  discusses tourism in the context of social urbanism and city branding.The online article is a summary of an academic article by the same author in the Journal of Place Management and Development. Certainly worth a read!

Hernandez-Garcia, J., 2013. Slum tourism, city branding and social urbanism: the case of Medellin, Colombia. Journal of Place Management and Development 6, 43–51.

 

New book on slum tourism out now! Touring Poverty by Bianca Freire-Medeiros

 

Yesterday a new book on slum tourism by one of the leading scholars of the subject, Bianca Freire-Medeiros was published. The book called “Touring Poverty” focuses on tourism in Rocinha, the most famous slum tourism destination in Latin America. It is a striking account and certainly a worthy read. You can find more information in the press release below

 

Touring Poverty (Routledge Advances in Sociology)

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415596541/

 

Touring Poverty addresses a highly controversial practice: the transformation of impoverished neighborhoods into valued attractions for international tourists. In the megacities of the global South, selected and idealized aspects of poverty are being turned into a tourist commodity for consumption.

The book takes the reader on a journey through Rocinha, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro which is advertised as “the largest favela in Latin America.” Bianca Freire-Medeiros presents interviews with tour operators, guides, tourists and dwellers to explore the vital questions raised by this kind of tourism. How and why do diverse social actors and institutions orchestrate, perform and consume touristic poverty? In the context of globalization and neoliberalism, what are the politics of selling and buying the social experience of cities, cultures and peoples?

With a full and sensitive exploration of the ethical debates surrounding the ‘saleof emotions’ elicited by the fi rst-hand contemplation of poverty, Touring Poverty is an innovative book that provokes the reader to think about the role played by tourism—and our role as tourists—within a context of growing poverty. It will be of interest to students of sociology, anthropology, ethnography and methodology, urban studies, tourism studies, mobility studies, development studies, politics and international relations.

Bianca Freire-Medeiros is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Center for Research and Documentation on Brazilian Contemporary History (CPDOC) at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was a Research Fellow at the Center for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe) at Lancaster University.

PREFACE by Licia do Prado Valladares (Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Lille 1 – France and Associate Researcher at IESP in Rio de Janeiro – Brazil)


Slum tour operator “Reality Tours and Travel” winner of Responsible Tourism Awards 2012

Reality Tours and Travel, the company operating slum tours in Dharavi, India has won the Responsible Tourism Awards 2012. The company is awarded the prize on the basis of their educational Dharavi Slum Tours that is said to make it possible for tourists to tour a slum in India in a responsible way.

The Awards Judges said: “We were really impressed by this fully integrated approach to realising the social purpose of using tourism to raise awareness of the reality of slum life, good and bad, and to raise money from its business and its customers to assist the community in Dharavi to develop. It has developed a form of Respon

sible Tourism that deserves to be adapted and replicated elsewhere; for this reason, as well as its own substantial achievements, we have selected Reality Tours and Travel as the 2012 Overall Winner of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards.”

This is the second year running that a slum tourism product (or similar) won the overall Responsible Tourism awards. Last year it was Sock Mob Events/Unseen Tours that won with their tours of London by homeless people. This is an interesting development. Whereas slum tourism has received much criticism on ethical grounds, it now also is increasingly recognised as a potential form of responsible travel. One of the most needed things to achieve this, would appear to be transparency on where income and profits go. The website of Reality Tours has an impressive  ‘transparency‘ section on their website that shows how their income is spend. Unfortunately, the last report dates from March 2011, so it is not possible to see the developments of the last 1,5 years in which the company can be expected to have grown much.

 

Slum Tourism: Developments in a Young Field of Interdisciplinary Tourism Research – Free download

A recent article by Fabian Frenzel and Ko Koens titled “Slum Tourism: Developments in a Young Field of Interdisciplinary Tourism Research” can now be downloaded for free from the publisher’s website. It provides a short overview of current central themes in the literature on the subject and sets out a short research agenda. As such it is both a useful introduction for researchers that are new to the subject, as well as those that want to reacquaint themselves with subject to do new research in the future.

It is not certain how long this articel will remain open access, so it may be useful to download it soon!

Abstract

This paper introduces the Special Issue on slum tourism with a reflection on the state of the art on this new area of tourism research. After a review of the literature we discuss the breadth of research that was presented at the conference ‘Destination Slum’, the first international conference on slum tourism. Identifying various dimensions, as well as similarities and differences, in slum tourism in different parts of the world, we contest that slum tourism has evolved from being practised at only a limited number of places into a truly global phenomenon which now is performed on five continents. Equally the variety of services and ways in which tourists visit the slums has increased.

The widening scope and diversity of slum tourism is clearly reflected in the variety of papers presented at the conference and in this Special Issue. Whilst academic discussion on the theme is evolving rapidly, slum tourism is still a relatively young area of research. Most papers at the conference and, indeed, most slum tourism research as a whole appears to remain focused on understanding issues of representation, often concentrating on a reflection of slum tourists rather than tourism. Aspects, such as the position of local people, remain underexposed as well as empirical work on the actual practice of slum tourism. To address these issues, we set out a research agenda in the final part of the article with potential avenues for future research to further the knowledge on slum tourism.

Frenzel, F. & Koens, K. (2012) Slum Tourism: Developments in a Young Field of Interdisciplinary Tourism Research. Tourism Geographies, 14 (2), p.pp.1–18.

Urban Poverty, Spatial Representation and Mobility: Touring a Slum in Mexico

While slum tourism generally is not associated with Central America, Eveline Duerr describes in her article Urban Poverty, Spatial Representation and Mobility: Touring a Slum in Mexico how in Mazatlán, Mexico a multidenominational church offers regular tours to the city’s garbage dump. She looks at different modes of (im)mobiilties and the implications this has for people and places and describesteh ambigious effects of integrating marginalised places into the urban representation.

Two new articles on slum tourism in India

The popularity of slum tourism in academic journals continues to increase.Here are two new ones:

An article titled Touristic mobilities in India’s slum spaces by Anya Diekmann and Kevin Hannamwas recently published in Annals of Tourism Research.They examine walking tour experiences of tourists doing slum tours in India to examine representational and non-representational theories of social lifes

The ethics of slum tourism in India are revisited by Deepak Chhabra and Akshat Chowdhury in their article titled Slum Tourism: Ethical or Voyeuristic? They note how slum tourism constitutes complex production process strives to provide both meaningful and profitable tourist gazes, although heavy traces of voyeurism can be found.

BBC World Service broadcast on slum tourism in Dharavi

An interesting radio broadcast on slum tourism was recently aired by the BBCWorld Service. Its “Business Daily” programme reports on slum tours in Dharavi, India and we hear a short analysis from Dr. Malte Steinbrink on the subject about whether the phenomenon represents aid or exploitation for slum-dwellers.

 

The programme can be download from the BBC World Service website, or you can download the report as an mp3 file directly from here (the part on slum tourism starts at 7.12).

 

BBC News article – Slum tourism: Patronising or social enlightenment?

BBC News has published an article on slum tourism highlighting the ethical debate on slum tourism. While the article holds little new information, it contains a decent summary of the debates. Furthemore it is another example that slum tourism incresasingly gets attention in the mainstream media after a similar article appeared in the UK “Metro” free newspape.

 

Journal article: Responsible Slum Tourism, Egyptian Experiences

A new article on slum tourism has been published in ‘Annals of Tourism Research‘. It is titled ‘Responsible slum tourism: Egyptian Experience‘ and was written by dr. Moustafa A. Mekawy. This is one of the first publications dealing with the concept of slum tourism in an Egyptian context and therefore should prove an interesting read.

Abstract

This paper aims to evaluate stakeholders’ views on the potential role that slum tourism and its associated products can play in enhancing living conditions in slums in Egypt. Empirical results were obtained using two quantitative surveys: one to investigate dwellers’ perceptions and a second to select appropriate pro-poor products based on stakeholders’ preferences. Findings show that inhabitants have positive attitudes toward the possibility of benefiting from slum tourism, but they differed in their ranking of the appropriateness of related pro-poor products. Based on findings, authorities should develop appropriate slum tourism products and typologies, as a planning threshold, to enhance living conditions of dwellers. A useful planning way of drawing ties between slum types and typologies is presented.

The article can be found at the website of Annals of Tourism Research

Discount Code for Slum Tourism Book

As mentioned in the previous post a new book slum tourism has recently been published with Routledge Pubilications. We are happy to announce that we can offer a 20% discount* on the  book to followers of slumtourism.net.

To order the copy with the discount code, simply quote SLUMTOUR12 when placing your order online.

Alternatively, you can print the Slum Tourism flyer (pdf, 1mb in size) and order the book by post.

*Discount code valid till 31/07/2012