Slum tourism: On the verge of violating the ethics?

Talking about the morality issue on slum tourism, some firmly believe that the experience-enriching tour is indeed unsettling to others. They believe that some tours are exploitive where those rich tourists are looking down at those less fortunate and some tours are blatant in their disregard for the inhabitants.

“We seem to feel the need to go anywhere, whether it’s slums or the top of Mount Everest, as long as we can pay the fee,” says David Fennell, professor of tourism and environment at Brock University in Ontario. However, those supporters claim that they are providing unique opportunities for cultural exchange and a chance for the disenfranchised to benefit from the tourist money through entrepreneurship by locals. It is sometimes really hard to draw a thoughtful line for the traveler on this question. Travelers should also look for tour operators who are deeply involved in the community.

“The reaction from the people in the area is either indifferent or they are genuinely happy to see the tourists.” In some cases, it’s the traveler who ends up giving back to the community.

That said, there are still obvious cases that the tourists are deeply impressed after participating in the slum tour in Mumbai. They were moved to sponsor a local child’s education fee and one was so inspired by his visit that he raised enough money to build a community center there at the end.

In my opinion, I think there should be a stricter official policy in regulating the operations of the slum tours agency. The establishment of this local tour is worthwhile in way that it encourages local to use their skills to earn a living and can raise awareness towards them in the global stage – which in the end can help improve their living standard.

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