Slum Tourism, Good or Bad?

They say that when you’re a university you should embrace your course, so I guess this is me embracing my course. One of our topics that we go over is Slum Tourism which is something that I took a really great interest in, especially due to my thoughts, opinions and also my experience. Although I haven’t directly been into a Favela (another word for a Slum meaning township or ‘community’), I’ve visited South Africa, and Cape Town in particular has a large Favela, Cape Flats, going through the middle, in other words Its absolutely huge. You can’t miss it. I guess the point I’m going to talk about is whether or not Slum Tourism is good or bad.

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Cape Flats, Cape Town, South Africa

Everyone’s opinions are different in regards to whether or not slum tours and slum tourism is beneficial or if its disrespectful. For me, in my opinion, I find that its really intrusive and as a result of that I think its bad.

Imagine you’re in your own home minding your own business and doing what you would do on a day to day basis, washing clothes and dishes, eating, sleeping, looking after your children. When all of a sudden a huge group of people or a small group are looking through your window and front door and taking photos of your house, the layout, your things, the way you live and the way you do things for their enjoyment. Some take pity, others may laugh and mock, and other won’t say a word. How would that make you feel? Would you feel angry? Insulted? Like they’ve just invaded a space that wasn’t even theirs to do so? Like trespassers.

What we don’t realise is that Favela’s, townships, slums etc, they’re where people live. its their way of living, their life and their home and its not something most of them have a choice of. They don’t have what some of us are lucky enough to have and we see this by entering their territory, invading their own living space, their way of life and sometimes we end up ridiculing them as there are some with little to no respect for others. So why have we made their homes a tourist attraction? for us to enter and amuse ourselves with their misfortune.

When I visited South Africa I did not go into the Favela, we had a tour booked and the moment I’d heard about it I was skeptical. I really didn’t want to go by the end of it and luckily we didn’t end up going and this was due to our safety. We are intruders. To go on the tour would’ve been plain as day an invasion of privacy and its unpleasant for them, so it would be just as unpleasant for us. We need to respect their home just as we do our friends, families and anyone else’s house we enter.

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View of Cape Town from Table Mountain.

Although there are some good things that can come from Slum/Favela tours. Sometimes favela tours can bring money to the community. Tourists spend money. If they are to come to the area they will pump money into the community. So although it is an invasion of privacy it is also a benefit to favela communities. Vice named this type of tourism ‘Poorism‘ due to the fact that these people live in poverty and we marvel that.

There are also some slum tour companies in other countries which will employ people from the favela to work with their company and this can be seen as a benefit as its giving these people jobs and money. Creating jobs for the community is definitely not a negative thing and it can also develop a cultural understanding between those who live in the favela and the tourists, as that is something that can also be an issue with these slum tours. The cultural differences and the lack and willingness of some tourists and those who live in the favela to understand & respect each other is evident, theres no doubt you’ll have those who believe they are bigger and better or theres resentment, and this can come from both sides.

Favela tours can make us realise that if we continue to ignore this poverty it will only get worse/develop. Overall I believe slum tourism is wrong, but due to some of the benefits the tours bring morally and to help the community its not all as horrendous as it seems, and as I said before it would be worse of us if we ignored it.

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(please remember this is only my opinion, something we’re all entitled too).

Miami – Miami South Beach, Tiny Shorts wearing models & Nearly getting eaten by Sharks.

Miami south beach was my idea of perfect. I know I’m not yet travelled enough to have seen Thailand and Australia etc and I’m very sure my opinion will change once I do go to those places. But for now, Miami South Beach is my beach of dreams, its also where I realised I wanted to study tourism.

Our first day on Miami south was spent walking up and down the sand, not going that far into the water as there were swarms of jelly fish everywhere and watching a man nearly get eaten by sharks. No really,  he really did nearly get his ankles nibbled by a shark. But I shall get to that.

I was blown away. I love the beach. At home the beach is my happy place. So any beach that is more gorgeous than the seafront at home, which is most as its England, will never fail to absolutely blow me away. It had golden sand and the clearest sea I have ever swam in so far in my life. The lifeguard huts were even like ones you see from the movies. I fell in love. I won’t hide it.

This was also where I fell in love with the idea of working in the tourism industry. The influence of all the tourists and the sites that I saw as I wondered along the beach were something that made me realise that this industry was for me. So it really wasn’t just any old meaningless trip to Miami South for me because I decided my future. The best decision may I add.

One day I went for a wonder along Miami South on my own with just my headphones and I saw a stingray for the first time as it swam along the shoreline! I never thought I’d see one so close to the shore and because the sea was so clear it was so impressively large and swam so fast. i also saw a film crew filming someone who looked to be a male model, but its safe to say the swimming shorts were far to short for my liking.

The walk where the man nearly got bitten by the shark was an interesting one. I wasn’t on my own for this experience either so I had Imi’s shoulder to hide behind if I needed too. There was a a serious jellyfish problem at the time we were there so a few huge schools of fish were coming really close to the shore to feed, and following those schools of fish were some little sharks who wanted to eat the fish. Because they were so close to shore some man decided yeah Ill walk out into the water where the fish are, and the shark which you could see very clearly, and take some photos.

I think he realised the mistake he’d made when the shark spotted him and started to go for him and he was knee deep and humans running in knee deep water doesn’t always work in our favour. That and the shark was a lot faster than he was. So he literally JUST managed to make it back to the shallows before the shark decided he fancied fish instead of human for lunch.

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Honestly you know when you’re cheering someone on to win a competition because they’re winning and an opponent is just behind them and you get that rush of excitement and you’re alrmost screaming for them to win? It was a lot like that because we didn’t want his ankles to be devoured.

One day Imi, GJ and I decided we wanted to go exploring to the end of the beach where there was South Pier. The view of the coastline from south pier was literally something from a magazine, I was speechless. It made me realise Miami is a beautiful place. The other side of the pier was the harbour and I think what made it was when the disney cruise ship was leaving the harbour and they sounded the horn that played disney tune and I melted. It was an impressively large harbour and port which can hold up to 5 cruise ships! But I’ll get to that in my next post about our Star Island trip!

My stepmum and I also did a beach run along the boardwalk that they have along the top of the beach, almost like a promenade. That was perfect to run on. It was also incredibly hot, but really perfect for a 6 mile run as we went a little earlier in the morning! We tried to run along the sand but as you can imagine that wasn’t the easiest!

So the verdict from Miami south was that I’m going to live there one day and bury myself  under the sand so I never have to leave ever again. And go to Nikki Beach. 

 

 

What is so great about Dark Tourism?

Trust me i’m here to tell you.

Dark Tourism is something that has fascinated me from the moment I started looking into it on my university course. That was it from the get go honestly. From the outset I wanted to know more about Dark Tourism and what it was.

For those of you who aren’t aware of what dark tourism is heres a little definition:

“Dark tourism, the act of visiting sites associated with death, suffering, disaster and the overall macabre” – (Tinson, Julie S; Saren, Michael A. J; Roth, Bridget E)

Sounds like something really chirpy to be interested in hey? But it is totally worth the interest. Dark Tourism isn’t something that is unfamiliar to us. It has been around for centuries, the example starting as early as the Romans going to watch live executions. Delightful right? So its not something that is new and unheard of.

Dark Tourism sites now are not quite to the extent of live executions, but definitely when being visited, bring an overall sense of sadness and realisation as to what happened during these horrible events and in some cases can help us to understand and gain more knowledge on the situation. An Example of this is Ground Zero in New York.

Ground Zero is the memorial for those who perished in the terrible 9/11 bombings. It was an act of terrorism that shook the world, but we did not and do not let those who suffered be forgotten. This has been done at Ground Zero in a brilliant and clever but harrowing and sorrowful way. The two squares are to mark where the two buildings known as The World Trade Centre / The Twin Towers used to stand. Around the edges of these large footprints where these towers used to stand are the names of those who were lost on the edges of the wall.

The concept of Ground Zero was to “remember absence”. Something that after speaking to someone (My stepmother) who recently visited Ground Zero, was very apparent, moving and emotional.

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There are incredible amounts of Dark Tourism sites all over the world, these sites are sites of respect, remembering and they all share the same theme.

Other examples of Dark Tourism sites are:

  • The Anne Frank House, Amsterdam.
  • Auschwitz.
  • The Killing Fields in Cambodia.
  • Prypiat, Chernobyl, Ukraine.
  • Hiroshima.
  • The My Lai massacre grounds in Vietnam.
  • Memorials dedicated to war veterans globally.
  • Prisons and Mental Institutions, abandoned and currently functioning.
  • Battlefields and previous war sites.
  • Robin Island, South Africa

I’m sure the list could definitely go on.

These Dark tourism sites are an incredible influence on our tourism industry as there is the offer of tours and guides to help understand these places more. Although there is the argument that whilst tourism for these venues is incredibly good for awareness and spreading the word of what happened in these horrible circumstances. There is also the argument that encouraging tourist to visit these places is wrong and can bring larger crowds and mass tourism. This can be seen as ruining the atmosphere and the entire meaning to the site. 

we should respect those still in mourning, which is a given of course. And respectful generally as a whole. Recently there have been issues in places like Auchwitz for example, with younger adults being disrespectful by being loud, littering on the sight and believe it or not, it’s been reported that some were even playing Pokemon Go on the death camp site. 

Some of the more positive aspects of these tourism sites is that we can learn, we can be fascinated by our tour guides who may have once been there during the tragedies. An example of this is at Robin Island, where you are taken on your tour around the prison & island by ex prisoners, a normal tour guide will never make the hairs stand up on your skin as much as these people will. 

We can learn about the past, these memories are ours for the taking and to make those around us and ourselves aware of the tragedies these people have suffered.

I feel that Dark Tourism sites make us appreciate life a little more too. 

I recently visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam and I was thoroughly moved and emotional by what the Frank Family went through. Reading her diary extracts and walking around the house, it gave me chills. It was an experience I will never forget and was lucky enough to encounter. It widened my understanding Of their experience too, I knew a little bit not a lot, so to go and to learn about it in its entirety was a wonderful experience. 

So go to these sites, be fascinated, be interested, cry, smile, enjoy, discuss, and most importantly

be respectful.