"Slum tourism" is on the rise in developing countries around the world. Some say the tours help the affluent understand the dire situations faced by the world's poor, but others say it's just a way to help Westerners feel good about themselves.
"Slum tourism, or 'poorism,' as some call it, is catching on. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the townships of Johannesburg to the garbage dumps of Mexico, tourists are forsaking, at least for a while, beaches and museums for crowded, dirty - and in many ways surprising - slums. When a British man named Chris Way founded Reality Tours and Travel in Mumbai two years ago, he could barely muster enough customers for one tour a day. Now, he's running two or three a day and recently expanded to rural areas."
"Slum tourism isn't for everyone. Critics charge that ogling the poorest of the poor isn't tourism at all. It's voyeurism. The tours are exploitative, these critics say, and have no place on an ethical traveler's itinerary."
"'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."