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'Slumdog Millionaire' Tour: Effective or Exploitative?

Where: Mumbai, India
January 23, 2009 at 1:41 PM | by | ()

First comes the critical accolades, next come the tourists: The same week "Slumdog Millionaire" got ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, a Mumbai company announced it would start offering the "Slumdog Experience," giving film lovers the chance to see the real-life neighborhoods in Danny Boyle's movie.

Reality Tours and Travel is no flash in the pan: The joint India-English owned company was founded two years ago to introduce visitors to the Dharavai slum outside of Mumbai. Cameras are not allowed and visitors travel on foot in order to be as inconspicuous as possible, with the guides speaking to local residents as they travel.

Of course anyone who has seen "Slumdog Millionaire," in which our hero works for a spell as a tour guide in Agra, knows the, er, perils of shady operators on the road. But we're liking the do-gooder aspect of pumping the profits from these tours (a 2.5-hour trip is $10) back into the surrounding communities, including into an associated NGO providing vocational training and English lessons. It seems like a better way to enact change than, say, trying to win a milli on a national game show.

Related Stories:
· Slum Tours [Reality Tours and Travel]
· Slumdog Millionaire: The Experience [Faded Youth Blog]
· Slum Visits: Tourism or Voyeurism? [NYTimes article via Realitytoursandtravel.com]
· Movie Set Travel coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: Guardian.co.uk]

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