Resort's fake shanty town 'poverty porn' experience draws anger

Slum tourism, where the impoverished area is the attraction, may have hit a new low in the form of a replica shanty town within a resort and game reserve on the western border of Bloemfontein in South Africa.

Accommodating 52 guests, the buildings are made of corrugated iron sheets, with long-drop toilets and outdoor drum fires.

But unlike most shanty towns, the informal settlements in which millions live and in which overcrowding, poor sanitation and limited access to clean water are commonplace, the settlement at the Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa also has underfloor heating, bathrooms with showers and wireless computer access.

"The Shanty Town is ideal for team-building, braais [barbecues], fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime … our shantys are also completely safe and child friendly," says the Emoya Hotel's website.

While some reviews on Trip Advisor rated it as "a real experience" others appeared to mock the questionable taste of the accommodation which costs $850 rand ($90) for four.

Said one reviewer: "The authentic long-drop toilets were overflowing raw sewage through the street and though this might put some people off, hey, we were after an authentic experience!"

And another comment: "The 1am gang battles outside the shack gave us a thrilling half hour, especially when a gunshot pierced the flimsy tin wall and lodged itself in my shoulder." Joking, hopefully.

The resort also came in for a pasting on social media, with Twitter users blasting the hotel's poor taste. It drew the attention of US satirist Stephen Colbert, who featured it on his TV show and called it "poverty porn". He joked that wealthy travellers who were sick of glamour camping (glamping) could now engage in glamour slumming, coining the term 'glumming'.

Elsewhere around the world, much-debated "misery tourism" offers many singular experiences.

In Gothenburg, Sweden, guests can "book" beds in areas more usually occupied by the city's 34,000 homeless people, with proceeds going to support the city's successful street newspaper, Faktum.

And in San Francisco, tourists can be homeless for a day, eating meals at a shelter and then trying to find a place to sleep.

Less confronting, Hidden City Tours in Barcelona, Spain, is led by people who were once homeless, but focuses on the city's historic sights rather than the its poverty.

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