Yesterday’s NY TIMES has a feature on slum tourism (aka Poorism). Here’s the nitty gritty:
“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?” asked David Fennell, a professor of tourism and environment at Brock University in Ontario. Slum tourism, he says, is just another example of tourism’s finding a new niche to exploit. The real purpose, he believes, is to make Westerners feel better about their station in life. “It affirms in my mind how lucky I am — or how unlucky they are,” he said.
“…proponents of slum tourism say. Ignoring poverty won’t make it go away. “Tourism is one of the few ways that you or I are ever going to understand what poverty means,” said Harold Goodwin, director of the International Center for Responsible Tourism in Leeds, England. “To just kind of turn a blind eye and pretend the poverty doesn’t exist seems to me a very denial of our humanity.”
The story was written by Eric Weiner the Author of “The Geography of Bliss.” I’m reading it now and quite happy with it.
I agree with the following conclusion:
“Mr. Goodwin and other experts say, is not whether slum tours should exist but how they are conducted.”
I’d also disagree with my fellow Ontarian’s statement:
“Mr. Fennell, the professor of tourism in Ontario, wonders whether the relatively minuscule tourist revenue can make a difference. “If you’re so concerned about helping these people, then write a check,” he said.”
How can a prof of tourism be so far off the mark. Helping people isn’t always about cheques.
My thinking – Who needs a tour group? If you wanna see poverty go see it. Don’t pay a tour guide. I’m not sure what function a guide would serve anyhow…
“And to your left you’ll see a man that lost his leg to an infection that could have been cured by “tough actin'” Tinactin. And to your right…”