Tourism: Can a ‘slum tour’ ever be ethical?


Paying to watch people living in poverty, you could argue, is intrinsically odd.

Whether driving through Brazil’s favelas in a bulletproof tank or shuffling awkwardly in the dust as dancers perform a contrived cultural show, a whole industry has evolved around so-called “human safaris” – where residents are reduced to curiosities.

Is this acceptable? Human rights organisation Survival International condemns any tours that use derogatory terms such as “primitive” and promote “nakedness” or traditional dress as a selling point.

Does that rule out community visits completely? Not at all. Experiencing different cultures is one of the great joys and educations of travel, but, pushed for time and…


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