Influencer slammed for ‘tone deaf’ post on ‘slums tour’

An influencer has come under fire for posting about a “slum tour” in India with viewers branding her clip as “tone deaf”.

Tara Katims, 24, who is known for her travel content with 2.1 million ‘likes’ on her TikToks, recently travelled to India where she documented her experiences.

In one of the videos from December which has since resurfaced, she spoke about her time in Mumbai including having done a tour of a “slum” that she was originally hesitant to do.

In the clip which has been viewed almost half a million times, Tara said she was “so nervous” but was “so glad” she went on the tour, adding that it’s something tourists should consider doing when visiting Mumbai.

However, her clip has backfired with some slamming the US influencer for “promoting poverty”.

“If you’re the kind of person that likes to stay in touristy spots when they travel, this probably isn’t for you,” she began the clip.

“I saw this listing on Airbnb for a tour that’s given by a man who actually used to live in the slums himself.

“His motivation behind starting these tours was to help break the stigma that comes with growing up in the slums. People can be denied jobs after growing up in the slums and so much more.

“The tour takes you through the different industries in the slums and you get to see daily life there and you get to learn a little more about the NGOs and organisations that are going in there to try to help it.”

She said while you can “easily come to India and only see the beautiful parts, the reality is, this is how most people in Mumbai live”.

According to the Airbnb listing, the ‘Dharavi slum tour’ costs 6 Euros ($A10) with Tara adding that profits are “reinvested back into the community”.

Her clip has continued to spark division with viewers branding it “tone deaf”.

“The vocal fry narration is perfect for this tone deaf post,” one viewer wrote.

“This is so tone deaf! Those are people living normal lives and you think it’s a good idea to walk around their home and have the audacity to call it ‘slum tour’,” said another.

One viewer hit back: “Well considering that it is literally the slums, and she’s touring it, a “Slum Tour” sounds like a pretty appropriate name.”

A furious viewer wrote that her comment about “most people in Mumbai living like this” was the “furthest away from reality”.

“Absolutely not how “most” of the people in Mumbai live. This is a large slum but just one small area of Mumbai. At least try to be accurate.”

Another person said they will never understand why “westerners think poverty tourism content is a good idea”.

One viewer said they understand the intention behind the video “but calling it a slums tour gives the whole idea a really poor taste”.

“Using the world SLUMS tour is NOT going to help break the stigma,” another demanded.

But not saw Tara’s clip in bad light with many agreeing with her stance.

“I did this last month, was one of the best and most insightful things I’ve done and the money gets reinvested!” one viewer wrote.

“Awareness and supporting the community is so important. I’m sorry these commenters don’t understand that,” another said in her defence.

When one woman commented “it sounds like it would be exploitative” Tara said she “thought the same thing” until she read more about the guide’s story.

According to the Airbnb listing, the tour goes for two hours and is hosted by Jitendra, who grew up in Mumbai.

“Dharavi is the largest slum in India. We would love to give you an educational insight of the area, by visiting different neighbourhoods and discussing everyday life and social issues of the locals,” he writes on the listing.

“We start our tour from the working district where you will be able to see locals engaged in different professions and jobs and other half we will tour the residential area.”

It has an average rating of 4.98 stars from 300 reviews – aiming to “dispel the negative image of the slum and plan to put part of the profits from tour for social activities”.

Dharavi is a residential area in Mumbai, and is often considered to be one of the world’s largest “slums” with a population of about 1 million, according to Times of India.

In 2019, The Telegraph reported that tours of the area had become India’s “most popular” tourist attraction, despite controversy over the ethics of taking part.

‘Slums’ are areas of densely packed housing and are often associated with poverty and

many no longer use the word due to its derogatory associations and negative connotations.

In the book Slums: The History of a Global Injustice, Australian academic Alan Mayne argues that the term is so freighted with historical distortions that it should be retired, Bloomberg reported.

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