THE new craze in tourism is slum-themed holidays. Yep, now you can live just like the millions who live in shanty shacks – with a few luxury features thrown in of course.
Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa, a five-star resort, charges rich tourists around $82, or about half the average South African’s monthly salary, for a night’s stay at a “slum” near Bloemfontein, South Africa and boasts it is the only slum in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access!
Emoya has thought of everything. Battery-operated radio. Outdoor toilets. Even a big old drum to cook your dinner in — everything that is “normally part of this lifestyle” — and all “within the safe environment of a private game reserve.”
The company’s press release boasts: “the Shanty Town is ideal for team building, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime. Accommodates up to 52 guests. Our Shantys are completely safe and child friendly.”
And you could ignore the fact that one in nine people in South Africa are infected with HIV or that roughly 30 per cent are unemployed or that more than three million children (nearly 4 per cent) are orphans.
Visiting real slums has become a popular, if controversial, form of tourism.
You can live “just like the poor” in India, Latin America and Africa. Well not quite like the poor. You won’t have to experience the real poverty of living without clean water, without enough food, and with violence, rampant crime and disease.
Some people call this sort of thing “poverty porn”. I have to agree.