Do not be surprised. Ravi, the guide will not present the beauty that will spoil the eyes of participants in Mumbai, India. Ravi will take his guests on foot into slums, which can be very unusual.
It is indeed a tour of slums. The concept of tourism has existed since the 19th century and still attracts people until the 21st century. These activities are also commonly known as "poverty tourism", "poverty", "slum tourism", "favela visits", "village visits" or "reality tours".
Whatever the name suggested, this alternative tour proved to attract its own fans. Every year, interest increases. Some want to travel to see the "real" world. However, this tour was also controversial. Some consider that it exploits poverty.
"It harasses the poor, the poor are like a show in a zoo," said Wardah Hafidz, founder of the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC), in an interview with the BBC. It responds to slum visits scattered in several locations in Jakarta.
The tour organized in Jakarta Hidden Tour includes the area of the city and Pasar Ikan, Luar Batang, this place has been evicted for several months. In addition, there are Galur sites in Senen, central Jakarta, and slums on the banks of the Ciliwung River, including Kampung Pulo.
Wardah's reaction could represent most people when they hear about tourism in slums. Of course, tourism is synonymous with activities that allow you to see things or put travelers at ease. Most slums are considered something that is not normally presented, even if it must be hidden, hidden from the general public.
However, for Ronny Poluan, organizer of the Jakarta Hidden Tour, this tour has a philosophy. According to him, travelers traveling in slums will provide them with a new perspective. This activity is a place of human encounter between classes, races and nations.
"I have an idea to bring people together," said Ronny, the initiator of this tour since 2008.
What Ronny said was true. It is conceivable that a top executive of a multinational or a world-class artist has very little chance of being directly met by the lower class in slums if there is no such event.
Did you arrive there? Some slum tourism activities are accompanied by formal assistance by foreign tourists traveling. Some operators or operators around the world reserve a portion of the income to the poor on the location of their attractions. However, is this assistance the essence of this activity? Certainly not.
For the government, including Indonesia, tourism activities in the slums are really striking. A few years ago, when the Minister of Tourism led by Jero Wacik, the existence of this tour was questioned by the government. "There is no tourism for poverty, if there is someone who initiated it, I do not agree, it insults us," said Jero Wacik at the 2010 Presidential Palace.
The screams of the government were just child's play for slum tour operators like Ronny and his friends. So far, there are still fans of the Jakarta Hidden Tour. Jakarta is just one of the many slum sights in the world, such as Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Cairo and Mumbai. Nearly 40,000 people visit the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro each year. This figure is not yet known. In Cape Town, slum travelers can reach 300,000 people each year.