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“Donor Tourism”: a new form of slum tourism?

It would seem that a new addition can be made to the  the ever-expanding world of poverty and slum tourism. The following article in English newspaper the Guardian discusses package tours that are organised by NGOs and labels it as “Donor Tourism”.

It provides a discussion of the reasons why (international) NGOs seem to have started to actively use specialist travel agencies to organise group donor trips to poverty stricken areas. In the end they note  ”development agencies realise that to build lasting connections between donors and their beneficiaries, increasingly the donor needs to get something back”.

This is an interesting observation as it suggests donors are more and more seen as clients that have a right to expect something back rather than supporting  relief organisations on a more intrinsic altruistic basis. The article also reflects on the worries of those working in emergency relief who in general appear to be unhappy with “Donor tourism”. A further critical discussion is given by Matt Muspratt on his Blog, where he highlights the dangers of such tours for further emphasising people’s gaze of Africa as that of a charity case. As Chimamanda Adichie so eloquently points out such a single narrative can create incomplete stereotypes of impoverished areas and rob people of dignity.

Given this critique, it will be interesting to see how “Donor Tourism” develops and to what extend it will establish itself as a new form of poverty or slum tourism.

Provide input on Guardian.co.uk Global Development Podcast

This month’s Global development podcast will look at the ethics and economics of travel to developing countries and ask what tourism can contribute to local development.

For the current episode they are asking for questions that people would like to ask to be put to their panellists for the podcast. For this episode the first panellist is Tricia Barnett, director of Tourism Concern, a UK charity with a mandate to fight exploitation in the global tourism industry. The second panellist is Jonathan Mitchell, co-author of Tourism and Poverty Reduction: Pathways to Prosperity and research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), where he leads the institute’s work on tourism. The podcast is presented by Madeleine Bunting.

One of the topics that are mentioned on this matter is slum tourism and its ethics. Some questions that may be discussed are: What can explain the boom in “ethical tourism”? What role can tourism play in economic development? Can travel to developing countries do more harm than good? And how (if at all) can tourism be made to work for the world’s poorest people?

This is a good way to ask some questions or pose an idea to these experts in their field. If you have any questions or comments that relate to these matters or touch upon different elements of slum tourism, or would like to hear from certain people on the topic, let them know by commenting on their website. Most current comments are on voluntourism so it would be good to get more ideas on slum tourism on there as well. The podcast is recorded coming Thursday (28 April) so please be quick.

If you have any problems posting, or if you would prefer to comment anonymously, you can email the Guardian at development@guardian.co.uk and they will add your thoughts to the debate.