As one of the world’s fastest growing travel trends, Volunteer Tourism or “Voluntourism” attracts thousands of travellers each year.
A chance to combine a trip abroad with charity work, Voluntourism is perfect for those who would like spend their holiday time helping others, and providing you book your trip with an ethical travel company or charity, you can benefit both the local people and the local economy during your stay.
However, the Voluntourism industry is completely unregulated, and you need to ask the right questions before you book…
There are literally thousands of tour operators and charities offering Voluntourim holidays to the world’s most remote and far-flung destinations, but according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, the most expensive Volunteer holidays are proving to be the least responsible.
“The less responsible organisations tend to hide the origin of their costs, which can also hide excessive profit margins”, said Dr. Xavier Font, who worked on the study, while the director of Global Vision International said, “Without question, there are some great organisations that do some very good work in the third sector, and some terrible ones that probably should not be allowed to operate”.
When it comes to any kind of responsible, sustainable and volunteer tourism, the key is transparency, so don’t be afraid to ask your travel agent or charitable organisation a few important questions such as:
- How much of what I pay covers overheads, and how much goes directly to the project?
- How is my money managed and when will the project benefit from my visit?
- Can I speak with some of your previous travellers?
- Can I speak with the local contact on the ground before I leave home?
- Can I see your responsible / sustainable tourism policy?
Voluntourism can be a wonderful thing; we just need to make sure the right people are benefiting.