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“Breaking the Silence”: Local Perceptions of Slum Tourism in Dharavi

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Slum tourism has been criticized for potentially exploiting the communities it visits. While the daily life of residents is the primary attraction of slum tourism, they do not receive any remuneration. Given the heated debate surrounding this topic, it is surprising that the perspective of residents remains largely unknown. This article aims to address this lacuna, by providing insights into the perceptions that residents have on slum tourism in Dharavi slum, India. It is unique in that it explicitly addresses host perceptions towards slum tourism enterprises as well as charitable activities funded through slum tourism. Insights were gained through 74 semistructured interviews, conducted in the most visited areas of the slum. Four different resident perspectives are recognized: apprehensive, positive, indifferent, and skeptical. Over time, residents in Dharavi become less excited by the presence of tourists, but they do not develop a negative attitude to them. Although residents are not without criticism of tourism, and there is a lack of knowledge on tourism's contribution to community development projects, they do not view tourism as exploitative. The struggle for Dharavi will be to ensure tour operators will continue to operate in a way sensitive to the local community, as tourist numbers and competition increases.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 31, 2015

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  • Tourism Review International is a peer-reviewed journal that advances excellence in all fields of tourism research, promotes high-level tourism knowledge, and nourishes cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism management and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changing tourism patterns and trends at the local, regional and global scale.
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