The tourism industry brings about measurable revenue. Research into the distribution of this revenue shows that revenue generated in tourism often does not support the poor. This is due to both leakages and the economic benefits going to those who are already wealthy. This is also true in cases of slum tourism where poverty is a theme and not just a condition of tourism. Policy intervention is a way to change this by harnessing tourism revenues and profits for the provision of public goods, care and policy alleviation programmes. But can tourism influence policy intervention for the poor? If it can, tourism has the power to alleviate poverty not through its economic aspects, but rather through its communicative and social ones. The EU-funded 'Qualitative indicators of tourism's role in poverty alleviation' (QUAL-POT) project sought ways to systematically evaluate and better understand the role tourism can play in influencing pro-poor policy interventions. Fieldwork was conducted in three of the most visited slum tourism destinations in the world — Johannesburg, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro — over two periods. It began with preliminary indicators through a review of literature on tourism and poverty. Research results were also disseminated as part of the field work. Partnerships with tourism operators were formed in each location. The objective was to share the research knowledge among them and create a forum of exchange. Dissemination occurred at academic conferences, presentations and workshops. Two special issues on slum tourism research in academic journals were edited and a second network conference was organised. A framework of qualitative indicators related to specific conditions in different locations is a result of the research. If tourism is to be effective in poverty alleviation, the impact of tourism needs to be understood on another scale entirely. The work conducted may help improve the ability to measure poverty that has been understood as a multi-dimensional phenomenon, and ultimately in its alleviation. The relevance of this is not only in the field of tourism, but also in the study of urban and international development.
Tourism, poverty alleviation, slumtourism, qualitative indicators