Poverty Tourism: a Question of Ethics?

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Poverty Tourism. A Question of Ethics?

Abstract

Poverty tourism is a modern form of tourism, where tourists travel to less developed places to observe the lives of impoverished and disadvantaged communities, typically located in the Third World. While experience seeking has emerged as a popular form of new tourism, it is necessary to ask the question of whether exercises such as poverty tourism are ethical. The purpose of this paper is to explore the conflicting paradigms of poverty tourism. Giving the reader a full understanding of poverty tourism and it’s effects on all parties involved, both positive and negative, and then speculate about the future of poverty tourism, and choices of tourists. This will be achieved by analysing the ethical issues associated with poverty tourism such as voyeurism, the demise of culture, unequal distribution of profit, the issue of control and management of poverty tourism as well as the possible benefits of this activity. Based on research and findings, the paper will also speculate the future of the poverty tourism and the sustainability of Third World tourism. With the use of credible authors and professionals in the field of tourism and poverty tourism, and the writer’s own personal experiences with poverty tourism and Third World tourism, the journal article concludes that the future of poverty tourism is dependent on the ability of stakeholders to efficiently manage the practice and ethical tourist behavior.

Literature Review

Poverty tourism is a modern form of tourism, where tourists travel to less developed places to observe the lives of impoverished and disadvantaged communities, typically located in the Third World. While experience seeking has emerged as a popular form of new tourism, it is necessary to ask the question of whether exercises such as poverty tourism are ethical. Is it demeaning to the inhabitants of these now famed slums to be perceived as attractions and ‘must-see’ sights? Is it moral to leer at someone less fortunate than yourself in order to feel humbled? In order to answer these questions, credible and reputable secondary data on this topic was sourced. In addition to this, primary research will be conducted with Simon Pawson, an industry expert. The three key sources used for supporting evidence in this argument are; Evan Selinger and Kevin Outterson’s 2009 essay The Ethics of Poverty Tourism, a working paper, Poverty Tourism and the Problem of Consent written by Selinger, Outterson and Kyle Powys Whyte in 2011, as well as Martin Mowforth and Ian Munt’s Tourism and Sustainability: Development, Globalization and New Tourism, the third edition, published in 2009. These sources are central to the writer’s argument and provide academic reasoning for the poverty tourism debate.

The Ethics of Poverty Tourism, written by Selinger and Outterson explores the notion that poverty tourism is an unjustified act when tourists condemn the impoverished communities. The document holds much merit as the Boston University School of Law published it, and both authors are reputable lecturers. Selinger belongs to the department of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, giving the document a strong theoretical base, based on the moral objection to poverty tourism, that when coupled with a phenomological research paradigm provides the paper with a philanthropic foundation. Contrastingly, Outterson a lecture at the Boston University Schools of Law and Public Health provides the paper with convincing legal evidence and also a personal account of an experience in a Brazilin Favela, which serves to add value to Selinger’s concepts, but also ads a sense of involvement and personal struggle with the topic of poverty tourism. This section of the paper enables the reader to feel included in the essay, yet the extreme academic language and multiple references make it difficult for someone on an entry level of research fully grasp. While the paper does...
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