In the South African city of Bloemfonteine, a hotel chain called Emoya Luxury Hotel & Spa has adapted an apartment complex to simulate the South African villages where they live in misery. This complex, called The Shanty Town, has adopted the “Play to be poor for a while” slogan, and it’s designed for upper-class tourists who want to feel poor for a few days without sinking their feet in the mud.
The “poor village” has 12 cottages that keep a poverty facade (with wood and tin houses), so that those ones who fantasize about being homeless for a few days don’t stop feeling the comfort. The surroundings and the history of the place were reconstructed following business purposes: the cabins are immersed in an waste environment (placed there as the attrezzo), the bathroom is out of the houses and tourists are encouraged to heat water in street bonfires.
The Shanty Town website says: “Now you can experience how it is to stay in a hut inside a private reserve. It is the only village in the world equipped with heating and Wi-Fi … The huts are ideal for teamwork, luxury themed parties or for havig a life experience. Our theme park is completely safe and child friendly.”
For an estimated per night of about $80 (150 thousand pesos), equivalent to half the South African average monthly salary, adults and children can spend a night in a similar cabin to the ones in poor areas of the country. The idea, according to Emoya Luxury Hotel, is to put the tourists in contact with poverty in South Africa.
But the experience is not quite complete because the cottages are located in a private space that belongs to the hotel. Here guests have electricity, internet access, heating, bathroom with shower, and other facilities.
Obviously, this kind of fiction meant for the rich to experience life like the poor got several criticisms. In particular, considering that in Africa the majority of the population lives in extreme poverty.