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Tourism and poverty: Poorism in emerging and developing countries

Contracting authority (client):

Own project

Project description:

Since around the mid-1990s, a form of tourism has established itself in some metropolises and megacities in developing and emerging countries, focusing on guided tours through poor neighborhoods. Such tours are offered in particular in the South African cities (Johannesburg, Cape Town), the Indian metropolises or in the Brazilian Rio de Janeiro to a considerable extent and in a professionalized form. Target groups of these tour-offerings are primarily international tourists. Estimates assume over 300,000 tourists in Cape Town and over 40,000 in Rio de Janeiro.

So far, only a few empirical studies on this tourism phenomenon have been carried out. On the one hand, these analyses address the motivation of tourists. Often the main motives identified are an interest in the culture of the country or in everyday life as well as the living situation of the inhabitants in the poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Secondly, these empirical studies investigate the extent to which these tour offers represent a potential for the economic development of these socially disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, in South Africa for example in the sense of community-based tourism.

It is a core question of this project in terms of social theory why and in what forms a market for visiting poor neighborhoods has established itself in modern society.

Project participants: 

Manfred Rolfes together with Andreas Pott, Malte Steinbrink (University of Osnabrück) and Christina Uhl (University of Potsdam)

Processing period: 

since February 2007

Field of work:

Tourist space semantics and tourism spaces