Image: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Eduardo Paes
Felipe Dana  /  AP
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, second from right, waves next to Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo Paes, right, and an unidentified person as they visit the Dona Marta slum Monday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lula and Paes inaugurated the "Rio Top Tour," a guide for tourists through some of Rio de Janeiro's slums.
updated 8/31/2010 10:10:57 AM ET 2010-08-31T14:10:57

Tourists usually try to run from Rio's notorious slums. Now officials are inviting them to come visit instead.

The Santa Marta shantytown on Monday became the first community in a program meant to promote tourism in the poor neighborhoods that are home to some unique music and art work.

The program, "Rio Top Tour: Rio de Janeiro in a Different Perspective," also rewards communities like Santa Marta that have been cleared of the violent drug gangs that have long made Rio's crowded hillsides famously dangerous.

Slum residents will be trained to work as tourist guides, and street signs in English will be posted throughout the shantytown of some 5,000 people, which will have about 30 attractions such as the place where Michael Jackson filmed a video, a samba school and works of local artists, as well as a vista point with a breathtaking view of the city.

"Rio won't be known only for the Christ the Redeemer statue, the Sugar Loaf Mountain or the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches," Brazil's Tourism Minister Luiz Barreto said.

The program created by federal and state authorities includes a marketing campaign and information booths posted in more traditional tourist spots.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited Santa Marta to officially launch the program, and said he intends to spread the program to other poor communities in Rio and across Brazil.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Rio de Janeiro

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  1. A view from the top

    An aerial view of the 'Christ the Redeemer' statue on top of Corcovado mountain on July 27, 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Michael Regan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Playing some football

    Men play football on Ipanema Beach ahead of the Preliminary Draw of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 28, 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Michael Regan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Open-air stadium

    A view of Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on May 15, 2013. (Marcelo Sayao / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Refreshed seats

    Workers remove seats as they begin the renovation of the Maracana Stadium ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2010. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Hot temperatures

    Locals and tourists enjoy Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, on July 25, 2012. An unusual 32° C (89.6° F) winter temperature is hitting the city which, according to experts, is due to a warm Amazon mass that prevents the cold front from the south from arriving. (Vanderlei Almeida / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Riding the waves

    A body surfer rides a wave during high tide in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on May 22, 2012. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Sky high

    A cable car travels to and from Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, on Aug. 18, 2008. The cable car leads to one of Rio's most visited sites, with 800,000 tourists per year. (Bruno Domingos / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Urban dwellings

    Homes crowd the Rocinha shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 22, 2012. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Urban forest

    A man walks with his bicycle through the Tijuca Forest in Rio de Janeiro, on July 29, 2012. The National Park of Tijuca is the world's biggest urban forest at 33 square kilometers (12.7 square miles). (Pilar Olivares / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Walking on the beach

    A fisherman boy walks amid herons in Mage, deep into the Bay of Guanabara, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 3, 2012. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Future Olympic site

    Aerial picture taken at the "City of Rock" -- which is to be the site of the future Olympic Village when Rio hosts the 2016 Olympic Games -- on the opening day of the music festival Rock in Rio, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 23, 2011. (Vanderlei Almeida / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Across the water

    General view of the Bridge of Knowledge designed by Alexandre Chan at the entrance to the 2016 Olympic city in Rio de Janeiro on March 20, 2012. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Ipanema in the distance

    Birds overfly the Cagarras Islands, five km away from Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 6, 2010. Several species of marine birds in risk of extinction inhabit the islands making them one of the most interesting spots for tourism in Rio de Janeiro. (Vanderlei Almeida / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Life-size art

    A passerby looks at a life-size body sculpture by British artist Antony Gormley, part of the Event Horizon installation, in Candelaria square in Rio de Janeiro's downtown, on August 8, 2012. Gormley's exhibition in the city includes works from Amazonian Field, Critical Mass, Event Horizon and Breathing Room among others. (Antonio Scorza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. An artistic tribute

    Artist Jorge Selaron poses while sitting on the staircase he created, the Escadaria Selarón, located between Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, on July 27, 2010. Selaron began his project, which is a work in progress, in 1990 with some 2,000 tiles collected from over 60 countries. The Chilean-born artist calls the project a tribute to the Brazilian people. (Clarissa Cavalheiro / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. New transport

    Cable cars are seen in front of the Penha church after Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff opened the new transportation system in Rio de Janeiro on July 7, 2011. The cable car system in the Alemao slum is part of the effort to crack down on crime and modernize infrastructure as the city prepares to host 2014 World Cup soccer matches and the 2016 Olympic Games. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Favela on a mountainside

    A "pacified" favela, or squatter settlement, is seen on a forested mountainside in the mist on June 21, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio de Janeiro's authorities have successfully "pacified" a number of formerly crime-ridden favelas in the city although the expansion of favelas due to a housing shortage has contributed to Rio's rainforest destruction. Many are constructed in the mountains and hillsides that surround the city, resulting in deforestation. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Surfing

    Teenagers walk to ride waves at Arpoador Beach on the final day of the Rio + 20 conference on June 22, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Park with a nice view

    A man reads a newspaper at the Quinta da Boa Vista park, on May 9, 2013. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Majestic sunrise

    Two Urubus fly at sunrise over the "Lagoa" lake of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 29, 2012. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Traditional dance

    People dance the Jongo, an Afro-Brazilian dance where the samba derives some of its roots from, in Rio de Janeiro, on July 28, 2012. The Jongo ritual is a legacy of African slaves who worked in Brazil's coffee plantations in the 19th century and is celebrated as a tradition mostly in slums and former slaves communities. (Ricardo Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Famous aqueduct

    Rio de Janeiro's Arcos da Lapa square on March 26, 2011. (Ricardo Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Festive celebrations

    A dancer of Mangueira samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Feb. 21, 2012. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A Rio sunrise

    Sugarloaf Mountain is silhouetted against the early-morning skies as the sun begins to rise in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the host city for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012. The Earth summit included high-profile talks among some 130 top leaders from nations around the globe. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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