MICE Middle East Websites

Voluntourism as a trend – important aid or business model?

Traveling and doing good at the same time: more and more people discover volunteer tourism. According to TourismWatch, in Germany alone an estimated 25,000 people per year book experience-oriented volunteer assignments in the global South, often only for a few weeks and offered on a commercial basis. In principle, it is a good thing when travelers want to improve the social, ecological or economic situation at their destination instead of just having a relaxing holiday. However through the increasing demand in this way of traveling the tourism industry developed plenty of drawbacks damaging the reputation of voluntourism, as it is also called. Alleged aid projects can do a lot of damage, so it is important to take a close look. But there are still many positive examples of volunteering and green projects, as some Green Pearls® partners demonstrate.

 
 

Distinguishing “good volunteering” from “bad volunteering”


 

So-called orphanage tourism is an illustrative example of the dark side of volunteering: in his book “Das Gegenteil von gut … ist gut gemeint“ the sociologist Daniel Rössler reports on orphanages in Ghana, where nine out of ten children have a family. In order to meet the increasing demand of volunteers from the global West, families were torn apart and children separated from their parents. This is not an isolated case: according to a study by Unicef, 85 percent of all “orphans” in Cambodian orphanages still have at least one living parent – a business practice that developed from an unreflecting volunteer tourism, offered in glossy brochures in combination with a safari or a beach vacation. It is just one example, why it is so important to examine the purpose and background of supposed aid projects very carefully.

 

 

Helping in the long term – with suitable skills

 

 

The initial question ought to be: which skills are useful on site? Of course, motivation is the basis for volunteering. However, without relevant skills, volunteering can cause negative effects. For example, nobody should teach children or help out with childcare without having suitable experience, and the same applies to the medical field. The reality is often quite different. Dubious travel agents communicate that it is sufficient to be motivated and show personal initiative. And especially with young people, a volunteer trip is advertised as a great opportunity to gain experience before entering professional life, to acquire new skills and to explore cultures and countries. This may also be true, but only as a positive side effect. Volunteering is not about self-discovery; it is about supporting where help is needed. A good volunteering organization can be identified by the fact that it carefully selects participants according to this rule preparing them by providing information and raising awareness.

 

 

What is the added value of my work?

 

 

Another characteristic of an aid organization that acts responsibly is that it organizes projects that have a lasting effect and help people to help themselves. This means that it is oriented towards the actual needs of the local people and involves them into its processes. It also means that volunteers should not take on jobs that local people could do themselves. In this case, too, it is important to take a closer look: Does a volunteer cause a local to be unemployed or does he have important skills that are wanted on site and that offer added value? Of course, there are also situations when every helping hand is needed, for example in the wake of a natural disaster. However, this also calls for a consideration of the question what is more helpful: being present at the destination and at the same time causing further costs, or maybe making a donation that enables experts to be sent there.

 

 

Volunteers should question their own motivation and possibilities

 

 

Volunteering means work and not everyone can provide the needed time and energy. So it is particularly important for volunteers to reflect upon their own situation and motivation. “We recommend travelers and those interested in volunteering to prepare well for volunteer assignments, to question their own motivation and to stay at the destination as long as possible”, says Christine Plüss, executive director of “Arbeitskreis Tourismus und Entwicklung“ (working group on tourism and development) and co-editor of the study “Vom Freiwilligendienst zum Voluntourismus” (“From Voluntary Service to Voluntourism”). “If there is not enough time for a well-prepared, long-term voluntary service, an encounter-oriented trip providing a look behind the scenes of tourism might be a better choice.”

 

 

Learning, helping and developing awareness

 

 

 

There are numerous opportunities for traveling sustainably and experience-oriented: the Peruvian NGO Inkaterra Asociación (ITA) provides extensive information on flora and fauna during rainforest tours and offers activities allowing visitors to support important nature conservation measures. In the Maldives, guests of Gili Lankanfushican participate in the Coral Lines Project, assisting in the regeneration of coral reefs by attaching corals to ropes in collaboration with marine biologists. And Reethi Faru Resort is committed to raising awareness for the protection of flora and fauna, regularly organizing joint beach cleanups on “Reethi Day”. In Thailand, there are more and more community based tourism initiatives, involving travelers into the daily live of villagers and allowing them to learn a lot about cultural and natural activities such as fishing or vegetable cultivation. These projects enable locals to earn a living from tourism and at the same time to preserve their traditions and culture. In addition, personal relationships build bridges between tourists and locals, and tourists gain valuable, authentic experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the country and its people.

 

 

Returning from such a trip and acting as an ambassador for sustainable projects contributes to raising awareness and making it easier to distinguish good aid projects from allegedly good ones. So, there are many great opportunities for traveling consciously and making a difference. Green Pearls® provides further examples ofgreen projects on its website and on the website of TourismWatch, there is a good range of quality criteria for reputable volunteer work.

Back to Home Page

Fortunately, the hotel industry is more and more implementing eco-friendly actions such as water-saving toilet flushing, garbage separation, or using towels and bed linens several times. more
Promoting innovation, job creation and sustainability are key considerations for the 15th World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Awards. UNWTO invites submissions until 31 October 2018.more
Successful initiative, now in its fourth year, calls on guests to donate at least one kilo of food, clothing and educational supplies to disadvantaged communities around the world.more
Delight in a savory trip in a one-of-a-kind Chocolate train that indulges in the finest Swiss culinary designed to satiate every palate.more
Situated at the highest point of the Vaudois Alps, less than an hour from Lausanne, lies one of the most spectacular and unique ski destinations that has attracted thousands of adventurous visitors from all over the world, due to more
Dubbed as the paradise for children, Sauvabelin boasts a breath-taking scenery where families and nature lovers can admire the unique landscapes and indulge in an afternoon filled with endless outdoor activities perfect for the sumore
After last year's successful debut, free riders and mountain bikers are ready for the second edition of Bike and Style at Munich Airport. From August 3 to 19, 2018, the Munich Airport Center (MAC), between Terminal 1 and Terminalmore
World of Glamping awards two Slovenian glamping properties with six and five-star ratingsmore
Promoting a greater engagement of the tourism sector with sustainable development is the main objective of the Tourism for SDGs Platform. The online tool is designed to advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals more
Emirates and its partner airline flydubai announced today that flights between Dubai and Zagreb in Croatia will be operated by flydubai from 2 December 2018 to 30 March 2019 after which flights will be operated by Emirates. The momore
Bali & Beyond Travel Fair - Indonesia
Memorable Moments at Movenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba
Honeymoon Middle East
Explore the hidden gems of Khon Kaen at PDMF 2018
Urban Beauty - Thailand
The 7th UNWTO Global Summit on Urban Tourism: Seoul, Republic of Korea.
First Asian MICE Cruise Conference Launches At IT&CMA 2018
Chengdu International Tourism Expo 2018
2nd Beijing International Travel Mart (BITM),
Huvafen Fushi, Maldives, For Honeymooners.
Zaatarah & Co. Travel Agency - Jordan .
Honeymoon In Spain By Spain Top.
Casa de Campo, For Honeymooners.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, For Honeymooners.
Travel Armenia - For Honeymooners.
Travel Connection Maldives For Honeymooners.
Dominican Republic For Honeymooners.
Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives for Honeymooners.
Spiceland Holidays - India, for Honeymooners.
IT&CM Asia 2018

Copyrightï¿¿ Mice Middle East 2013

P.O.Box 841113 Amman 11180 Jordan, Marj Alhamam, Amman - Jordan

Mobile: +962 785557778 fax: +962 65713689

Email: motaz.mice@gmail.com   Website: www.micemiddleeast.com

Motaz Othman Email