Wed, March 18, 2009
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Entrepreneur pushes limits of slum tourism

2009-03-18 10:19:37 GMT2009-03-18 18:19:37 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

A German entrepreneur plans to turn a Brazilian slum into Rio de Janeiro's next tourist hotspot.


A museum, a juice bar, education projects and a giant image of a peace dove that could be seen across Rio are among other plans as Rolf Glaser seeks to make Vidigal a "normal" part of the city instead of an area where most Brazilians fear to tread.

STORY: The beauty of Rio De Janiero's beaches is as much a symbol of Brazil as the violence, drug dealing and poverty of the city's slums.

Here in Vidigal the best and worst of both worlds worlds collide.

These shacks have a panoramic view of a upmarket beach and the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.

German developer Rolf Glaser thinks the Vidigal slum offers the best view in Rio.....and perhaps a lucrative business opportunity.

SOUNDBITE: German Businessman, Rolf Glaser, saying:

"Rio de Janeiro has a lot of potential, but it needs to be transmitted to the outside, somebody to take it outside."

Slum tours, catering to tourists who want to see the "real" Rio, are already a controversial growth industry.

But Glaser's pushing the boundary even further with an idea to turn one of the hundreds of Rio slums into a trendy new hotspot on the city's tourist map.

He plans to build about 10 well-appointed villas on top of Vidigal where tourists will be able to taste luxury and grit at the same time.

It may not be everyone's idea of a relaxing holiday but there are already fears the $500,000 investment could spark property speculation, forcing residents to move to other slums.

And if Glaser succeeds, others say the development could create opportunities for slum dwellers who have few alternatives.

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