Feel-good tourism: An ethical option for socially-conscious Westerners?
Keywords:socially responsible tourism, Global South, first world, Reality Tour, race, power, social justice, social conscience, tourism
AbstractPublic awareness on how tourism contributes to the economic, cultural, and environmental demise of the global South has increased in recent years. Consequently, many socially-conscious people from the “first world” or global North have come to regard conventional tourism as a gratuitous and crass form of exploitation and are opting for more socially responsible alternatives. This paper brings together critical studies on ethical tourism with critical race, postcolonial and feminist theories to examine one example of “alternative,” socially responsible tourism. Drawing upon narrative data collected through in-depth interviews conducted with five women who participated on a “Reality Tour”, this article considers some of the ways in which racialized relations of power might be disrupted or reproduced through this type of socially responsible tourism. Specifically, it focuses on some of the experiences and perspectives of people who have participated in it to examine its affective and meaning-making dimensions. With a focus on the North/South racialized relations of power that these tours give rise to, this article also raises some broad ethical questions related to socially responsible tourism with the objective of engaging a larger debate about the paradoxes of using tourism as a means toward social justice.
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