Tourists are now going off the beaten path and those pretty beaches are not the only things attracting them. Individuals are now interesting in visiting impoverished areas, with hopes of attaining a more ‘AUTHENTIC’ experience than the one that is being sold to them.
According to oxford dictionary slum, is an overcrowded urban area inhabited by poor people. Transforming what is referred to as the ghetto and turning it into a tourism product a country can benefit from is known as slum tourism. It is quite interesting that these areas that are frowned upon are now being sought out by tourists as places to visit.
Slum tourism has evolved quickly over the years, despite the controversial stigmas attached to it. One of these is that the image of the country will be tarnished and another criticism is that it turns poverty into entertainment. It is also stated that individuals living in the community will feel degraded. However, it does improve the local’s lives. Even if small, money is entered back into the community and it also provides employment for individuals. Spotlight on these poorer areas could also lead to their improvement. Although the critics have pleaded their case one cannot deny the benefits of this tourism venture.
I took an interest in this topic when I visited Downtown, Kingston and saw individuals conducting what appeared to be a slum tour. These tourists seem eager to learn about the lives of a typical Jamaican. South Africa used these tours to educate individuals about how the population lives. This helps shed light on the situation which eventually motivated some individuals to do something and led to the formation of many charities.
One of the major arguments against slum tourism was that it is an unethical practice that exploits individuals. They still have to continue with their tough reality when the tours are over. If the tours are conducted properly then much can be gained to help those communities. Community members can also become involved in these tours by even creating crafts to sell to tourists.
Now we ask ourselves this questions, should we continue to go about our day to day pretending not to see the slums around us? Or do we create awareness in hopes of gaining knowledge and improving the slums?