Assessing the Sustainability of Slum Tourism

Theodoros Panagopoulos

Student thesis: Master thesis


Slums have always tempted the imagination, portrayed as adventurous places that display authenticity, culture and diversity. The phenomenon of slum tourism first made its appearance in Victorian London and since then has been the focal center of journalists, academics and social reformers, raising questions about poverty, power and ethics. More recently, slum tourism reappeared in many cities of the Global South drawing the attention of the academia and international media, and while it is criticized for commodifying poverty and promoting voyeurism, its advocates stress the benefits it produces for the poor. The impact slum tourism has on local communities, however, remains relatively undocumented. Driven by the declaration of 2017 as the ‘’International Year for Sustainable Tourism Development’’ by the United Nations, this paper explores the potential of slum tourism as a tool for poverty alleviation, focusing on the cases of Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro. The sustainability of this ‘’new’’ phenomenon is examined in a post-developmental approach, through a lens of ethical controversies, conceptual ambiguities and asymmetrical power relations, in hope that slum tourism is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages82
SupervisorsMogens Bjerre