Poor Benefitting From 'Poverty Tours'

In the squatter settlements in South African slums, a burgeoning new industry is developing around so-called "poverty tours", where Western tourists are taken off the beaten tour path to see what life is like in impoverished squatter communities.

"Attracting tourists might seem a daunting task for someone living in a squatter camp in Soweto township, on the edge of Johannesburg, the world's most dangerous city outside a war zone."

"However, some entrepreneurial residents now take hundreds of mostly Western visitors, keen to see the grim side of the new South Africa, around their community every week."

"Before tours were organised, visitors on their way to see the house of former president Nelson Mandela in Soweto, the crucible of the anti-apartheid struggle, were already stopping by for a glimpse from the safety of their buses."

"Touring the settlement is free. But tour guide Rolomana can make up to R100 in tips on a good day -- taking visitors on a short stroll down the narrow alleys, visiting a shack and watching residents coming and going and collecting water at one of the communal water taps."

"That is equivalent to roughly a day's pay for a security guard protecting an apartment compound in a wealthy suburb."

Full Story: Poverty tourism brings cash to SA townships



Colorful slums

It may seem these poor people are getting exploited but they were poor before the tourists showed up. There are slums around the world where the locals know they are poor but they must live a day to day existence. If a few guides can make a few rand and the poor are at least seen as real people, then so be it. A portion of the tips should go into a fund for community needs in return for the discouragement of open begging.

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