Volunteer tourism: A global analysis


Volunteer tourism: A global analysis

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Delivery weight: 270 g


Tourism Research and Marketing
83 pp
January 2008
ISBN: 978-90-75775-34-1

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Main Description

This report provides a first global overview of the rapidly growing volunteer tourism market, and analyses the motivations, behaviour and travel patterns of volunteers and the activities of the organisations providing volunteer travel experiences.
 
Part of the recent growth in volunteer travel can be related to the diversification of volunteer experiences, which make a definition of this market more difficult. Although most volunteer tourism involves a combination of travel and voluntary work, new forms of experience are emerging which involve a combination of work and leisure, or making donations instead of working.
 
This increasing demand for volunteer experiences is being met by a growing number of volunteer service organisations, most of whom have their headquarters in the developed world. Over half of the organisations we identified are non-profit, but the number of commercial providers is rising rapidly. Their activities have a considerable impact on the countries served, not only in terms of the fees paid directly to them by participants, but also because the volunteer travellers spend much larger sums of money funding their total travel plans - an average of over $3000 a trip in 2007.
 
Based on our survey of over 300 volunteer tourism organisations worldwide, we estimate that overall the market has grown to a total of 1.6 million volunteer tourists a year, with a value of between £832m and £1.3bn ($1.7bn - $2.6bn). The most substantial growth in the sector has taken place since 1990.
 
A survey of over 8500 young travellers in 2007 indicates that volunteers are more likely to be women than men, and 70% were aged between 20 and 25. The frequency of volunteer motivations among young people grew slightly between 2002 and 2007, in line with trends in volunteering in general. Motivations for travel tend to be a mixture of volunteering, exploring other cultures and work and study abroad. There also seems to be a significant element of ‘unorganised’ volunteer tourism, with many young people finding volunteer placements once they arrive at their destination rather than being placed or sent by a volunteer service organization.
 
The main destinations for volunteers are Latin America, Asia and Africa. Together these regions account for almost 90% of the locations offered by volunteer service organisations. This underlines the close link between levels of development and volunteering, with most flows of volunteers being from relatively rich to relatively poor regions.
 
National Tourist Offices have slowly begun to realise that there is a ‘high spending’ tourist market that is attracted to volunteering, and they are beginning to introduce volunteering opportunities on their websites. There has also been a significant growth in the number of commercial organisations catering to the volunteer market, and these are beginning to compete with the traditional non-profit volunteer service organisations.
 
There are also emerging ethical concerns about the benefits of volunteer travel, with some groups suggesting that it can do more harm than good. This especially concerns the way in which the volunteer work can be misdirected and organised more for the benefit of the untrained traveller than the recipients of their efforts.
 
One of the proposed solutions to this problem is to recruit more experienced and highly skilled volunteers who will have more to offer their hosts. This trend matches the growth in career gaps and sabbaticals among older volunteers, which is slowly giving the volunteer tourism market a more senior age profile.
 
The growth in volunteer tourism has also produced a plethora of analyses, websites and industry events, which are slowly adding to our body of knowledge about this important social phenomenon.
 
Contents
 

1. INTRODUCTION

2. WHAT IS VOLUNTEER TOURISM?

2.1. What is meant by 'volunteer'?
2.2. Defining and measuring civic service
2.3. Types of Volunteer Projects
2.4. Profit or non-profit
2.5. Fund raising
2.6. Costs
2.7. Government funding of projects

3. WHO ARE THE ORGANISATIONS AND COMPANIES INVOLVED?

4. FACTORS STIMULATING THE GROWTH OF VOLUNTEER TOURISM

4.1. Volunteer Motivation and Commitment

5. ETHICAL ISSUES IN VOLUNTEER TOURISM

5.1. Impact of volunteer tourism on local people

6. VOLUME AND VALUE OF VOLUNTEER TOURISM

6.1. Estimated volume of volunteer activity
6.2. Estimated market value
6.3. Charitable contributions
6.4. Government and government agency involvement

7. VOLUNTEER TOURISM MARKETS AND DESTINATIONS

7.1. Volunteer markets
7.2. Volunteer destinations
7.3. Volunteer Tourism - a global demand profile
7.4. Volunteer tourism and Tourism Boards
7.5 . Responding to crises

8. VOLUNTEER TOURISM ON THE WEB

8.1. Getting information
8.2. Voluntary Service supporting organisations
8.3. Volunteer Tourism Research

9. THE FUTURE OF VOLUNTEER TOURISM

10. CONCLUSIONS

11. APPENDIX

I.     LIST OF ORGANISATIONS
II.    GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SOURCES

 

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