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politics

The ugly side of slum tourism

A weblog by Michael Smith mentions the possible start of  of poverty tourism to the Romani settlements near Veµká Lomnicea village in Slovakia. What is significant about this form of slum tourism is not just the location, but also the fact that it is the mayor of the town that is planning to organise the tours. Apparently the local population that is to be visited has little or no control over this project.

This would make it an example of slum tourism of the most unethical form. Not only does it seem unlikely  money will reach those that are visited, tourism even seems to be used for political purposes. While this may be a biased version of the story, it does reflect a potentially highly disrespectful form of slum tourism that should not be endorsed.

More generally, since this kind of slum tourism perpetuates the negative connotation that many people have with slum tourism, one wonders what people can do to highlight to tourists that tours are unwanted before they book them. Furthermore, it begs the question of how to ensure visits to impoverished areas and communities happen in a respectful way. Next week will see a paper discussing this latter issue on slumtourism.net.