Voluntourism in Southern Thailand: Community-Based Tourism in Action

Voluntourism in Southern Thailand: Community-Based Tourism in Action

Andaman Discoveries Voluntourism

By Kelly May, CTB Project Manager, North Andaman Tsunami Relief (NATR) / Andaman Discoveries


There's nothing more rewarding than selflessly helping others. Combine this with the chance to travel to exotic destinations off the beaten tourist track and you have the potential for a memorable trip. "Volun-touring," as it has become known in the tourist industry, is an ideal way to gain authentic experience and engage with the local people. It also gives you the chance to give back to the communities you visit, much more than you can by simply taking photographs or buying souvenirs.


Volunourism also has the potential to cater to the increasing demand of the modern-day traveler for unique experiences. Voluntourism, if managed well, therefore, can satisfy the needs of both the local community members and the travelers.


Customized voluntourism trips, such as those organized by Andaman Discoveries in Southern Thailand, allow socially and environmentally conscious travelers to actively engage in local community development and empowerment processes. Past projects by Andaman Discoveries have included teaching English, hospitality training with homestay host families, light construction work, planting community gardens, cleaning activities on beaches, and mangrove forest restoration.


Appropriate volunteer placement and a close working relationship with villagers are essential for the success of community-led voluntourism projects.


"The local communities were openly welcoming and were pleased to involve me in their community," says Helena, a recent volunteer. "I believe this positive reception was a direct result of the work ethic of Andaman Discoveries to empower the local people to develop sustainable projects that fit with their lifestyle and culture."


Andaman Discoveries is committed to the long-term rehabilitation of the North Andaman region through integrated projects and sustainable tourism development, and is encouraging interested travelers to visit the region and participate in community-based tourism. Having community-based tourism as a sustainable means of livelihood reduces the need for villagers to leave the village in search of work in larger cities and the demands on the surrounding natural resources, allowing for environmental conservation.


A contribution to the village Community Fund is included in each of the Andaman Discoveries trips, ensuring that all villagers benefit from having volunteers in their community, not only those directly engaged in tourism programs.


Volunteering is not just for students. People of all ages and backgrounds have something to offer that can have positive impacts on communities. Even being a 'pilot' tourist with in villages developing community-based tourism can have real empowering results for the guides and homestay host families, as they are given the chance to put into action the skills they have learnt in training workshops.


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