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With the support of the Planeterra Foundation, the International Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators have been developed by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and an international advisory committee. The goal of this project is to develop a practical tool that will help international voluntourism providers plan and manage their programs in a responsible and sustainable manner.
About the Project
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and Planeterra Foundation are collaborating to develop a set of criteria that will help international voluntourism providers plan and manage their programs in a responsible and sustainable manner.
We have launched this project because an increasing number of travel companies are adding volunteer opportunities to their tour itineraries worldwide. The growing trend, which is now commonly known as voluntourism, is an area of great interest for many organizations. Our hope is to develop a set of criteria that will help international voluntourism providers plan and manage their programs in a responsible and sustainable manner.
This Project Is Supported By
Planeterra Foundation: Planeterra supports social and environmental solutions in destinations where travellers visit.
To ensure that this project incorporates a diverse range of industry knowledge and experiences, we are working with an International Advisory Committee representing a variety of industry sectors and regions:
- Bodhi Garrett, Co-Director, Andaman Discoveries, Thailand
- Valeria Gracia, Asociación Civil Voluntario Global, Argentina
- Sallie Grayson, Programme Director, People and Places, U.K.
- Nancy McGehee, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Virginia Tech University, U.S.A.
- Leah Griffin, Product Innovation Manager, G Adventures
- Thandi Miedema, Founder, Calabash Tours, South Africa
- Paul Miedema, Founder, Calabash Tours, South Africa
- Kristin Lamoureux, Ph.D., Director, International Institute of Tourism Studies, The George Washington University, U.S.A.
- Lelei LeLaulu, President, Community Benefit Development, U.S.A.
- Daniela Ruby Papi, Founder, PEPY Tours, Cambodia
- Gopinath Parayil, Founder and Chief Executive, The Blue Yonder, India
- Marnie Heim-Stafford, Owner, Voluntours, South Africa
- Jeremy Stafford, Owner, Voluntours, South Africa
- Andy Woods-Ballard, Director of Operations, Global Vision International, U.K.
- Stephen Wearing, Associate Professor, University of Technology, Australia
TIES and Planeterra, with the support of the Advisory Committee, will conduct a global industry survey in May-June 2011.
To be held during the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) - Hilton Head Island, SC, Sept 19-21, 2011
TIES will produce the final Voluntourism Guidelines for publication in Fall 2012 - to be announced at the ESTC12 - Monterey, CA, Sept 17-19, 2012
Voluntourism Guidelines Survey Summary Report
*This report has been compiled and edited by Ashley Armstrong, Megan Epler Wood, Ayako Ezaki and Kelly Galaski, with guidance from the International Advisory Committee members, as part of the International Voluntourism Guidelines project.
Voluntourism Study: Give a Little, Gain a Lot
This study was conducted by Merriah Michel, Dan Miller and Stephen Cheung of Georgian College Research Analyst Program, in partnership with TIES, Planeterra and G Adventures.
Background: Voluntourism is the practice of individuals going on a nonpaid working holiday for the purpose of volunteering themselves to worthy causes. The industry has experienced enormous growth in the number of companies operating, volunteers travelling and, projects and regions available. Current research on voluntourism has demonstrated that there is a need for empirical quantitative analysis. Furthermore, utilizing a large sample will reduce the reliability limitations associated with past research. Valuable insight into the motivations and expectations of these voluntourists will provide for a richer understanding of the market segment.
Purpose: To examine current and prospective voluntourists' attitudes and perceptions of voluntourism in order to help Planeterra enhance and differentiate its products and services in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
"Voluntourism is the practice of individuals going on a non-paid working holiday for the purpose of volunteering themselves to worthy causes. The industry has experienced enormous growth in the number of companies operating, volunteers travelling and projects and regions available."
Voluntourism Trends & Discussions
CMIGreen "Green Traveler Study" (2009):
59.1% of those surveyed said they were interested in volunteering during a future trip.
74.4% have volunteered while traveling.
37.6% said the availability of volunteer activity encouraged their selection of a vacation destination.
46.4% said they would dedicate several days to volunteering during a trip.
69.9% said that the most important outcome or goal of a volunteer travel experience is to "give back."
7.9% are willing to spend $51 or more a day on their vacation if it meant they could also volunteer.
58% continued to be involved with the project they volunteered with after they returned home.
Condé Nast Traveler/MSNBC poll (2008):
98% of those surveyed were satisfied with their volunteer travel experience.
55% said they would like to take a volunteer vacation.
75% of those who have volunteered are "very likely" to do so again.
91% of the volunteers believe their efforts were at least as worthwhile as donating money.
86% believe that voluntourism benefits both the traveler and the destination.
Travelocity Travel Forecast Poll (2008):
38% of the 1,000 respondents had added volunteering to their 2007 vacation planning options.
7.1% said they planned to take trips specifically for a charitable cause.
31.2% said they planned to extend their trips for a charitable cause.
Useful Links and Resources on Voluntourism:
- VolunTourism.org - Resources (articles, blogs, research articles, books, documentaries)
- Ethical Traveler - Articles on voluntourism
- Voluntourism Gal - Voluntourism Research
- International Volunteer Program Association - Volunteer program principles
- Voluntourism 101 - Voluntourism Self-Check Guide
- Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) - Voluntourism standards