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Love or Loathe: Slum Tourism

Photo from http://www.nytimes.com

So after a month of dieting, being more careful with our money and vowing to travel more, this new month should find us lighter, and our pockets heavier-at least until we start spending all of that sensibly saved money on travelling, anyway!

If you’re feeling particularly determined to honour your New Year’s resolution to see more of the world, you might have already started thinking about taking a trip to a place you’ve always wanted to visit. If you’re considering visiting a country like India, Brazil, Kenya or Indonesia, you might be interested to know about something called ‘slum tourism’, where companies offer to take the curious traveller on tours to see how people live in some of the world’s largest slums. While many of them stand accused of turning poverty into a form of entertainment for the wealthy, others believe the tours highlight the plight of slum dwellers and argue that they offer tourists an opportunity to help their cause.

Photo from http://www.nytimes.com

Photo from http://www.nytimes.com

Now you may think slum tourism to be a new concept, but in fact it has been in existence for over 150 years, with London’s upper class residents visiting so-called ‘slum’ neighbourhoods such as Whitechapel or Shoreditch in order to witness for themselves the plight of their less fortunate neighbours. The same began to happen in New York City, where wealthy inhabitants would visit the Bowery and Five Points area of the Lower East Side to see how ‘the other half lives’.

Today, and as has been the case since the late 1990s, this kind of tourism is growing in popularity. Many of the tour companies claim to donate high percentages of their profits to local charities and to those affected by poverty, while others argue that the tours are of no help to anybody and that those affected see not a penny of the money raised.

If you have an opinion on this controversial subject, why not share it with other Go Girls in our Facebook poll, and tell us whether you think that there is still a place for slum tourism in today’s society?

Click here to vote on Facebook!

Love:  These tours are the perfect solution to raising awareness of extreme poverty while generating funds for the poor

Loathe: Slum tours seek only to profit from the rich and exploit poor and vulnerable people

Kate Blanchard
Kate is an English woman currently living in rural Morocco with her husband, Ben, and their mischievous mongrel, Douglas. They moved out there three years ago after Ben was offered employment as the manager of a large fruit farm, and although life can often be challenging for them both with cultural differences and language barriers, they see this as more of a reason to stay, than a reason to admit defeat and leave. Kate tries to find humour wherever possible in life, and finds herself blessed (or as her husband would say, ‘cursed’) with an irrepressible desire to see the beauty and the positivity in what others may see to be ugly and negative. Most of all though, she has a zest for travel and exploration and finds it incredibly satisfying to share her stories of adventure with others, even if it does nothing more than transport the reader to a distant land for a few minutes.

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