Ever wanted to embark on a tour through the New York City ‘ghetto’? As of Monday, this opportunity is no longer available, with the only company, Real Bronx Tours, no longer offering visitors to the city “a ride through a real New York City ‘GHETTO’”, after coming under attack from local politicians and news sources.
After an article on Sunday in The New York Post ran depicting a typical tour, in which a tour guide invited passengers to stare at people waiting outside a church food pantry and pass through a park once well-known for crime, on Monday, the initial invitationon the company’s site to ghetto tourism accompanying the promise of a “journey into [a] diverse and mysterious borough” has now changed into one that instead vows “a taste of the real Boogie Down Bronx.” Nonetheless, public outrage remains the same.
The New York Post’s article iterated the nature of the $45-a-ticket tour, describing how, three times a week, the Real Bronx Tour took riders-- predominantly white Europeans and Australians, on a ride through the Bronx that included stops in which the tour guide made jokes to the tourists at the expense of the people present in the neighborhood.
In one instance, the bus idled across from the historic St. Ann’s Episcopalian Church, where two-dozen people waited for handouts from the food pantry. The article quotes the tour guide as saying, “I don’t know what that line’s about, but every Wednesday we see it. We see them go in with empty carts, and we see them come out with carts full.”In an open letter on Monday covered by the New York Times, Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito wrote to the company owner, Michael Myers, stating, “We are sickened by the despicable way in which you portray the great borough to tourists.”
The letter continued, “We strongly urge you to stop profiting off of a tour that misrepresents the Bronx as a haven for poverty and crime, while mocking everything from our landmarks to the less fortunate members of our community who are availing themselves of food assistance programs.”
It remains to be seen whether the Real Bronx Tours will continue to portray the Bronx in the same manner, as they have not been responding to calls from the press.