Bronx ghetto tours stopped after outrage

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   May 23, 2013 at 12:35 PM   |   0 comments

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May 23 (UPI) -- A Bronx tour company has shut down its "Ghetto gawker" tours taking people to see soup kitchen lines and public houses after media and political exposure sparked a wave of outrage online.

The now-deleted website for Real Bronx Tours offered "a ride through a real New York City ghetto," a phrase that caught the attention of the Bronx Tourism Council.

“I was incredibly disturbed by what I saw,” Olga Luz Tirado, the executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council, told PIX 11.

The sight-seeing trips, which cost $45 a person, appealed mostly to white Europeans and Australians, the Post reported.

Tirado said she expected a "Real Bronx Tour" to feature stops at sights like the Bronx Zoo or the New York Botanical Gardens, but was dismayed when a staffer went on a tour incognito and discovered its true nature.

Tourguide Lynn Battaglia would instead take them -- safely inside a bus, of course -- to Grand Course, a rough approximation of Paris's Champs-Elysées, St. Ann's Episcopalian Church, where the poor lined up for food pantry handouts, and St. Mary's Park, which was a deadly spot when New York suffered under much higher crime rates.

"If it were 1980 and you said to me, ‘Lynn, I want to die.’ My answer would be, ‘You’re in the right neighborhood,’” Battaglia said.

Local leaders were furious, and anger began to mount as word spread on social media.





“We are more than happy to welcome tours to our community that celebrate the rich culture and history of our neighborhoods, but using the Bronx to sell a so-called ‘ghetto’ experience to tourists is completely unacceptable,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in a statement.

Although Real Bronx Tours has caved, Bronx residents say they owe the people they exploited an apology.

Historical Bronx Tours owner Alexandra Maruri has a suggestion for these misguided guides.

“I actually would like to offer a tour to the “Real Bronx Tours” to give them a REAL tour of the Bronx,” Maruri said, hoping a view of the borough's historical neighborhoods would set them straight.

More than a few people pointed out the irony of politically correct outrage over the tours, when, in fact, these kinds of sight-seeing trips -- sometimes called "reality tours" -- take place in slums all over the world.


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