Brazil’s Rio works with local citizens to promote tourism in city’s slums

Monday, August 30, 2010

Brazil’s Rio wants tourists visiting its slums

RIO DE JANEIRO — Tourists usually try to run from Rio’s notorious slums. Now officials are inviting them to come visit instead.

The Santa Marta shantytown on Monday became the first community in a program meant to promote tourism in the poor neighborhoods that are home to some unique music and art work.

The program, “Rio Top Tour: Rio de Janeiro in a Different Perspective,” also rewards communities like Santa Marta that have been cleared of the violent drug gangs that have long made Rio’s crowded hillsides famously dangerous.

Slum residents will be trained to work as tourist guides, and street signs in English will be posted throughout the shantytown of some 5,000 people, which will have about 30 attractions such as the place where Michael Jackson filmed a video, a samba school and works of local artists, as well as a vista point with a breathtaking view of the city.

“Rio won’t be known only for the Christ the Redeemer statue, the Sugar Loaf Mountain or the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches,” Brazil’s Tourism Minister Luiz Barreto said.

The program created by federal and state authorities includes a marketing campaign and information booths posted in more traditional tourist spots.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited Santa Marta to officially launch the program, and said he intends to spread the program to other poor communities in Rio and across Brazil.

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