poverty tourist (n.) – Not to be confused with a development tourist (who works in development), a poverty tourist is one who comes on a holiday to a development country to see how terribly poor the poor are, and how wonderfully helpful the development industry is. Some poverty tourism can definitely be classified as a cultural exchange and has merit for both the tourist and the visited community. However, the exposure to poverty and development is generally too short and superficial to communicate the complexities of poverty and development. Poverty tourism is often coupled with donations by the tourist which increase the degree to which he/she identify with the visited development projects. These projects can range from meaningful training and employment generation projects to useless showcase do-good initiatives.
Anyone interested in coming to Rwanda for poverty tourism can look at New Dawn Associates who, despite my reservations, do appear to be doing some good work.