When alternative tourism goes wrong.

There exits a whole other type of alternative tourism that has absolutely nothing to do with the preservation of the environment or social awareness. There are different types that we’re going to develop below.

Slum or Ghetto tourism: It is part of what is called “poverty tourism”. Poverty tourism is according to Matt Collins definition: “any type of media, be it written, photographed or filmed, which exploits the poor’s condition in order to generate the necessary sympathy for selling newspapers or increasing charitable donations or support for a given cause.[…]” In this case, people (generally from the North) visit impoverished urban cities (generally in the South) to see the living condition of the population there. Not out of concern for or to help the local people, but mostly for voyeuristic purpose. Some of the country sadly infamous for this practice are India, where slum tourism boomed after the movie Slumdog Millionaire came out, Brazil where it’ called favela tourism, and South Africa where it is called township tourism.

This kind of tourism is counterproductive because the tourists visit without respect for the dignity of the locals, have a vague idea of what they go though, and go back to their comfortable lifestyle.


Favela tourists with their guide in Rio de Janeiro.

Disaster tourism: It is the act of visiting places that underwent natural disasters, civil conflicts or even warfare. This practice emerged in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Tourists through their tour bus could drive through the city to take pictures of the devastation the hurricane made. Like guetto tourism, disaster tourism is seen as voyeuristic as many people visits these places merely to satisfy their curiosity.


A sign aimed at tourists in the neighborhood of Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

These unethical approaches of tourism are increasingly taking a share of mass tourism.