Login | Register | Subscribe to the GG RSS Feed

Slum Tourism -The Crassest Way to See the World?

Voyeurism or ethical tourism?

What's not in right now: beaches, high-end lux and hedonism. What's in: shantytowns, back alleys and garbage dumps. No, we're not kidding. "Slum Tourism" or "Poorism" is the hottest new trend in travel, according to a New York Times article this week.

Reality Tours and Travel, based in Dubai, organizes tours in poverty stricken areas, sometimes into areas Slum Tourism - Is It Ethical?Slum Tourism - Is It Ethical?police won't even venture. The point? To give travelers an honest, up-close look at life in places they wouldn't travel to without a guide: garbage dumps in Brazil or the squatter camps of Rio de Janeiro for example.

Supporters of the trend say tourism dollars open up job opportunities and raise global awareness of poverty and how individuals can make a difference. By is it ethical? Do travelers tour in buses and snap pictures without respectfully interacting with locals?

"Tourism is one of the few ways that you or I are ever going to understand what poverty means," Harold Goodwin, director of the International Center for Responsible Tourism in Leeds, England told the New York Times. "To just kind of turn a blind eye and pretend the poverty doesn't exist seems to me a very denial of our humanity."

David Fennell, tourism and environment professor at Brock University in Ontario doesn't agree. He says slum tourism robs people of dignity and is only about making westerners feel better about their place in life. "Would you want people stopping outside of your front door every day, or maybe twice a day, snapping a few pictures of you and making some observations about your lifestyle?"

While even critics concede some tourism dollars will eventually trickle down to do some good, is traveling to slums a responsible alternative to volunteer travel or simply writing a check to help the poor?

What do you think of slum tourism? Do think it's ethical travel or plain and simple voyeurism?

Related Stories

Rate This post


If people want to see poverty, it's easy enough to find in their own country. (Would you take your family into ghettos and high crime areas of the US for a learning experience? Not likely). There are plenty of ways to learn about poverty and to help without the blatant voyeurism.

Nope not for me. I agree this is crass. If you want to do good when you're traveling then volunteer at the same time. Don't try to make it look all ethical when its just about you seeing something you couldn't see by yourself. Stupid trend if you ask me.

Post new comment

GoGirlfriend Recommendations

Connect With Us



Membership is free and with it you can set up a profile, vote on stories and post your opinions.

Already a member?

Not a member? Join!

Most Recent Comments

  • On Lesbian Adventure Travel, ELLA Travel said "Thanks for the great article!! If you're travelling to Europe check the ELLA International Lesbian Festival (ellafestival.com) and ELLA Travel (ella-travel.com), organising lesbian events and trips! "
  • On 5 Nudist Resorts that Will Blow Your Mind, John Ruze said "Hi Julia, There is a brand new, very popular nudist resort you should think about reporting on in your next article about naturism. It is the New Terra Cotta Clothing Optional Resort and Spa in sunny Palm Springs, California.. The original Terra Cotta Inn was a fantastic nude resort. Repeat guests from around the world stayed there. TCI was sold in Nov 2015 and greatly missed. Well, this July 2017, it was revived at a new location in Palm Springs. The site is HotelTerraCotta.com. Guests are super happy. It's perfect for couples and girlfriend getaways. And Tom and Mary Clare from the original Terra Cotta Inn work with us, so it has the same relaxing, fun feel. "
  • On The Best Naturist Resorts in Ontario, Dennis Wilson said "Love the freedom feeling going nude . 1st time ever was at freedom fields ranch near Tamworth On,Hector & Eyvon are super hosts ,hope to visit this summer but want to learn of more places to visit."
  • On An Open Letter to Hotels Everywhere, Lynn said "I agree on the night light thing. Since hotels have none, I end up keeping the bathroom light on all night with the door ajar. Windows. I understand in the litigious US of A, hotels need to prevent folks from throwing themselves out the windows (or else the hotel could be sued?!!). Ok, fine. But for those of us who dislike A/C and only use it when absolutely necessary, can't we still have the option for some FRESH AIR? There ARE ways to allow windows to open up only so much, while at the same time preventing an entire body from throwing itself out the window. Bedskirts. Am I the only one who gets the skeevies when I see hotel beds with bedskirts that hit the floor? I always had images of food crumbs, bugs, and god only knows what...as being hidden behind that bedskirt. I'd much rather a bedskirt that's at least 2" above the (usually carpetted) floor. Towels. Can't we get nicer towels that don't feel like cardboard? Carpetting. Am I the only one who never walks barefoot in a hotel room ...esp when there's carpet? Blech. I'm sure those things are very rarely cleaned. "
  • On How to Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin on Your Next Cruise, Tinu said "Thank you for this post! I was dragging my feet about going on a cruise. Now that I know there's such a thing as a balcony cabin, I can't wait to book a trip!"

Blogs We Love

beautiful Vancouver, British ColumbiaCheck out our GoGirlfriend Facebook page to follow us as we seek new adventures and create memories in our own part of the world.