Stephen Colbert went so far as to say: “At best, insensitive; and at worst, poverty porn.”
Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa created a fake shanty town so that its wealthy clientele can pretend to slum it “within the safe environment of a private game reserve.”
However, unlike the genuine towns, tourists at the resort are given conveniences such running water, electricity, under-floor heating, and even Wi-Fi.
Guests can also experience an outdoor toilet or "long-drop."
The company states on its website: "A Shanty usually consists of old corrugated iron sheets or any other waterproof material which is constructed in such a way to form a small 'house' or shelter where they make a normal living."
"A paraffin lamp, candles, a battery operated radio, an outside toilet (also referred to as a long drop) and a drum where they make fire for cooking is normally part of this lifestyle."
The resort is also listed as ideal for team building exercises or theme parties. Because afterall, nothing is more festive than pretending to pinch pennies while spending a third of the median South African monthly income in one night.
Poverty tourism, also known as “poorism,” isn’t unheard of. There have been various “reality” tours through the slums of Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro’s favelas for years.
Elsewhere around the world, much-debated “misery tourism” offers many singular experiences.
In Gothenburg, Sweden, guests can “book” beds in areas more usually occupied by the city's 34,000 homeless people, with proceeds going to support the city's successful street newspaper, Faktum.
And in San Francisco, tourists can be homeless for a day, eating meals at a shelter and then trying to find a place to sleep.
Less confronting, Hidden City Tours in Barcelona, Spain, is led by people who were once homeless, but focuses on the city's historic sights rather than the its poverty.
Pretending to have experienced poverty without ever meeting any of the people who are actually suffering, is taking tone deafness to a whole new level.