The tour company is called Real Bronx Tours and took people to public housing, lines for food pantries, and even pointed out parks they said were good places to get pick-pocketed.
Bronx officials say they only found the borough was being exploited after they sent some undercover staffers to check it out first hand.
The website for “Real Bronx Tours” is gone, but the site used to tout a tour including “a ride through a real New York City GHETTO.”
“I was incredibly disturbed by what I saw,” said Olga Luz Tirado, the executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council. She says as soon as she saw the phrase an alarm went off. She expected to see sights like the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Gardens on Bronx tours, not public housing, so she sent a staffer to check it out.
“The fact is that they were doing things that I would NOT advocate in any way shape or form as the director of tourism,” said Tirado.
Tirado says the tour exploited many who struggle financially for the company’s profit.
People living in the borough were furious, sounding off on Twitter, and collecting hundreds of signatures to put a stop to the tour.
Politicians also joined the cause. In a statement Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior said:
“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.”
Turns out after all the public pressure the company agreed and will no longer run tour.
“It’s a negative aspect that is outdated and it’s passed.”
Alexandra Maruri has her own Historical Bronx Tours. Unlike “Real Bronx Tours” she says her tours actually highlight the history of Bronx neighborhoods like “Little Ireland” in Woodlawn. Maruri highlights true landmarks like Woodlawn cemetery, and she believes the organizers of the ghetto sight-seeing trip could benefit from her tour.
“I actually would like to offer a tour to the “Real Bronx Tours” to give them a REAL tour of the Bronx,” said Maruri.
As for “Real Bronx Tours” they did not return our calls for comment on this story. But, Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior says even though the tours have stopped organizers still owe an apology to the 1.4 million people who live there.
At one point the “Real Bronx Tour” was actually mentioned on “ILovetheBronx.com” the borough’s tourism website. Tirado says she took it down as soon as she noticed and will now make sure someone from the tourism council experiences any tour before it’s listed on the website.