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Volunteer Tourism

Challenges and Opportunities; Attitudes and Perceptions

Masterarbeit 2012 60 Seiten

Soziologie - Arbeit, Beruf, Ausbildung, Organisation




Index of charts and maps


Historical Background of Volunteer Tourism
1.2. Hotspots, product range and Agencies
1.2.1. Hotspots of Volunteer Tourism
1.2.2. Product Range of Volunteer Tourism
1.2.3. Agencies as actors in Volunteer Tourism
Literature Review - Current Research Foci in Volunteer Tourism
1.2.1 Disciplines engaging in volunteer tourism research
1.2.2 Introduction to literature and scope of this paper
1.2.3 Literature Review, Motivations to volunteer
1.2.4 Literature Review, Challenges and Limitations of Volunteer Tourism
1.2.5 Literature Review, positioning agencies within the volunteer tourism framework
1.2.6 Literature Review, scientific research volunteers
1.3. Summary of Literature Review and identification of gaps in research

2. Research Questions and interests
2.1 Introduction and Reasoning
2.2. Research Questions

3 Methods
3.1 On site research at Knysna Elephant Park
3.1.1 Study site
3.1.2 KEP Data collection Methods
3.2 AERU volunteer questionnaire
3.2.1 Design of the AERU volunteer questionnaire
3.2.2 Distribution of the AERU volunteer questionnaire
3.2.3 Evaluation of the AERU volunteer questionnaire
3.3 ‘General’ volunteer questionnaire
3.3.1 Defining the Sample Group
3.3.2 Designing of the ‘general’ volunteer tourist questionnaire
3.3.3 Distribution of the ‘general’ volunteer tourist questionnaire
3.3.4 Evaluation of the ‘general’ volunteer tourist questionnaire
3.4 Traditional tourism companies survey
3.4.1 Identifying the sample group
3.4.2 Designing the survey for traditional travel agencies
3.4.3 Interpretation of the survey

4. Results
4.1. Results Introduction
4.2. Knysna Elephant Park results
4.2.1. Results of the KEP volunteer questionnaire
4.2.2 Results of the ‘general’ volunteer survey in comparison to AERU results
4.2.3. Tourism Companies Survey

5. Discussion of the research findings

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

8. Appendixes
Appendix I) AERU Volunteer Questionaire
Appendix II) ‘General’ volunteer survey
Appendix III) Tourism Provider Survey
Appendix IV) Notes on some major volunteer tourism agencies contacted for ‘general’ volunteer survey


Since the 1970ies volunteer tourism has sparked academic as well as public interest and debate. This thesis consists of a concise analysis of current theories and research interests in this field. It points out challenges and opportunities of international volunteering, using a case study from South Africa, especially focusing on the area of research volunteering in a conservation context. The analysis of attitudes and perceptions of the volunteer as well as potential benefits the experience may have on their future life in general and career especially has been carried out by means of online survey. Further similarities and differences between ‘general’ volunteers and research volunteers have been established and analyzed, leading to the insight that altruism combined with the desire to travel and experience a different culture are central motivators to both groups and similar perceived benefits are attributed to volunteering. This study concludes that research volunteering can be especially beneficial to all parties involved if design and realization of the project are given great consideration and suggests further research into the complex task to develop mutually beneficial volunteering projects despite ongoing commodification of this area of sustainable tourism.

Index of charts and maps

- Map 1) Global Volunteer Flows, p. 5
- Map 2) The three types of Volunteering and their hotspots, p.6
- Chart 1) Best Practice Scenario in Volunteer Tourism, p.8
- Chart 2) Flawed Scenario of Volunteer Tourism, p.8
- Chart 3) Disciplines in Volunteer Tourism Research and Interests, p.9
- Chart 4) Nationality, p.30
- Chart 5) Age, p.30
- Chart 6) & 7) Occupation, p.30
- Chart 8) & 9) Main motivation to Volunteer, p.30
- Chart 10) Importance to Volunteer with Animals, p.31
- Chart 11) Importance to Volunteer with Elephants, p.31
- Chart 12) How much Volunteers Enjoyed/Learned from Tasks
- Chart 13) Understanding of Data collection, p. 33
- Chart 14) Understanding of the Data use, p.33
- Chart 15) AERU volunteer influence on career, p.35
- Chart 16) ‘general’ volunteer influence on career, p. 35
- Chart 17) Tourism providers offering volunteer tourism, p.36
- Chart 18) Reasons for offering volunteer tourism, p. 36


Who can be termed a volunteer tourist? According to Wearing someone who “volunteer(s) in an organized way to undertake holidays that might involve aiding or alleviating the material poverty of some groups in society, the restoration of certain environments or research into aspects of society or environment” (my emphasis, 2001, p.1). While this definition is highly accepted and much quoted within and outside the discipline of volunteer tourism research, it is not the only valid characterization of course. Taking apart the two components into tourism and volunteering the United Nations Organization suggests that while the concept of volunteering can be found “in every society” the actual form it takes on the ground can be very “different” (2011, p.xxii). This high amount of diversity has been frequently observed (Lyons & Wearing 2008; Cousins, 2009) and is intriguing and challenging to research at the same time. While Cousins argues that volunteer tourism can be defined as phenomenon “in which paying members of the general public travel for the purpose of actively participating in organized conservation work” the researcher claims that a more encompassing definition is more appropriate for the purpose of this paper (2007, p. 1021). While the organized nature is a key identifier of volunteer travels, the researcher would like to include other types of volunteer work such as teaching English or offering community services into her definition. Volunteer tourism as used in the course of this paper will include experiences where the volunteer paid a fee as well as free of charge options.

Historical Background of Volunteer Tourism

While travelling and volunteering each have a history reaching far back into the past, the phenomenon of volunteer tourism is a rather recent one according to the fields’ most influential authors (Wearing, 2005; Brightsmith et al. 200; Holmes et al. 2010; Campbell et al. 2006). Due to this being a rather recent trend it is worthwhile to briefly consider the origins of its two components, volunteering and tourism.

Freyer argues that before the 1850ies people merely travelled, mostly for a very clear reason such as trade, war or pilgrimage (2001). From the second half of the nineteenth century though tourism began to establish itself as an elitist way to educate and amuse oneself. Only after the end of the Second World War, so from 1945 on, mass tourism could be observed as a (western) worldwide phenomenon. Of course this development was supported and rendered possible through affordable air travel, more paid holiday days and freedom to travel. With the 1970ies increasing diversification and specialization could be observed within the tourism industry of the developed nations in combination with ever increasing numbers of travelers (Freyer, 2001).

The rise in consumer choice on the tourism market coincided with the awakening of a certain ecological conscience among a fraction of the potential tourists during this decade. That tendency continues up to the present with a steep increase in total numbers of tourists worldwide as well as an ongoing diversification of holiday options to cater for very different interests and financial backgrounds.

For this paper, following Wilson, “volunteering means any activity in which time is given freely to benefit another person, group or organization” while for this paper the aspect of giving time is accommodated by giving work power or ideas (2000, p.215). The beginning of volunteering in itself can of course not be historically dated and any attempt to do so would be out of the scope of this paper, but volunteering abroad in order to alleviate material or other hardship in an organized way can be traced back in history. It can be argued that the first organized travels to this end took place within the missionary movement and then later was tied to colonialism related activities oversees. During the 1960ies the Peace Corps provided help abroad and then short term volunteering programs emerged, followed in time by diverse options to volunteer abroad (after Raymond & Hall, 2008).

While the combination of travelling and volunteering on an individual basis has probably existed for substantially longer(Campbell & Smith 2006), the emergence of volunteer tourism and the founding of agencies to provide this service can be dated in the 1970ies (Wearing, 2001, 2004; Ellis, 2003 in Campbell & Smith, 2006). Lyons and Wearing talk about a certain “fuzziness” on the “intersections between volunteering and tourism” that cannot be overlooked when defining volunteer tourism (2008, p.147).

Especially since the turn of the century, among other topics the “breadths of a phenomenon that continues to grow” has been of scholarly interest (Lyons & Wearing, 2007, p. 4). More and more calls for investigation into the actual workings of the volunteering tourism complex can be heard. On one hand “volunteer tourism has become the new ‘poster-child’ for alternative tourism on the other hand a critical gaze is necessary as “the often unchallenged belief in a symbiotic relationship between volunteering and tourism” can mask bias and the potential perpetuation of inequalities (Lyons & Wearing, 2007, p. 6).

1.2. Hotspots, product range and Agencies

In order to gain a better grasp of the intricate topic of volunteer tourism it is essential to briefly introduce the key locations, activities and agents of the market. As has been established before the internet is the main platform where exchange concerning volunteer tourism happens (Cousins, 2007). This exchange can be multidirectional from agency to potential volunteer, from former volunteer to project, from volunteer to volunteer and so on. Due to the casual nature of this kind of communication its influence can easily be overlooked. But it has to be noted that volunteer tourism, besides being closely linked to providing unbureaucratic environmental and humanitarian support, it also constitutes a large market with a high monetary value. This factor cannot be neglected in research and needs to be taken into account when assessing motives, practices and projects.

1.2.1. Hotspots of Volunteer Tourism

In the preliminary research to this paper a number of volunteering tourism hotspots could be defined using in depth internet research. Looking at the ‘traditional’ tourism main destinations and comparing them to the top volunteering destinations one can observe a partial inversion. Europe and especially the European Union Countries are highly frequented by ‘traditional’ travelers but hardly ever sought out by volunteer tourists. For other regions this cannot be said; several destinations in Central and Latin America are much visited by both types of tourists. Then, there are countries like for example China, that ‘regular’ package holidays hardly ever take place in while they are very popular destinations for volunteers.

If there is no clear connection between ‘regular’ travelers’ favorite destinations and prime volunteer locations, what are the common characteristics of divers countries like South Africa, Costa Rica, India, Thailand and Australia, only to name a few popular volunteering destinations? They all offer outstanding natural sites, are culturally diverse and different to most volunteers’ home country and are relatively safe for foreign travelers. While this might sound simplistic these criteria are fulfilled by almost all top volunteering destinations (see Appendix IV).

Frequently it is argued that volunteer tourism activities “flow unilaterally from north to south” exporting western youth to aid in less privileged regions of the world (Sherraden et al., 2006, p.169, 175 in Palacios, 2010, p.863). Similarly Raymond’s argument that a large proportion of the volunteer stream flows from ‘developed countries’ towards ‘developing countries’, enjoys great approval, one still ought to consider this general trend with scrutiny (2007).

The main volunteering destinations are not part of the absolute poorest countries of the world as a certain political and actual infrastructure is needed in order to successfully employ volunteers for projects. The aspect of natural sights is important as well because there often is a strong link between volunteering, touristic exploration and ecological awareness. In this light it is interesting to observe that most of the top volunteering sites coincide with areas of very high biodiversity (see map 1). On the map below information about the amount of biodiversity, origin of volunteer tourists and volunteer tourist destinations has been compiled and layered on the map of the world. This map comprises information on global volunteer flows in relation to biodiversity to display the argument that a certain link between these factors can be observed. The data for main volunteer tourist destinations and countries of origin has been derived from the initial internet research on the topic and the information provided by the ten volunteer tourism companies selected for the volunteer questionnaire.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

To sum up it can be said that all top volunteering destinations have some shared characteristics, namely infrastructure, relative safety for travelers, political stability and a high biodiversity value. Of course this is a rather simplified definition but nonetheless this can be deducted from the initial research done for this paper.

1.2.2. Product Range of Volunteer Tourism

From the initial internet research on the topic three main areas of volunteer work could be identified. This has been done analyzing volunteer tourism providers’ homepages and brochures. While it has to be mentioned that there is a vast number of different tasks the volunteers to be can choose from, all of these can at least loosely be assigned to either one of the three main areas. These are animal care/conservation, environmental conservation/restoration and community development/teaching. Also a global distribution pattern displaying the dominant kind or kinds of the three volunteering areas could be established from preliminary internet research. In order to visualize this information a map has been produced positioning the previously identified three areas of volunteering activity on the globe.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The number of volunteer tourism providers that offer the whole range of projects and destinations is rather small. Though there are not very many companies offering the whole range of volunteering trips they are key players in the market and cater for a large share of total volunteers. Most agencies are specialized on either some region(s) or on one of the three types of volunteer assignment. Apart from that there are also some placements that offer direct booking meaning that the future volunteer applies directly on site of the project he or she would like to support. Most of the volunteering takes place through agencies though, a factor that needs to be taken into account in the latter part of this paper.

Comparing the prices for the three different volunteering options a certain hierarchy can be established. Highest prices are found among the animal related volunteering with marine mammals being at the top of the fee pyramid, followed by large carnivores and primates. The medium price category is assigned to environmental restoration/conservation projects while community development and teaching are by trend the less expansive projects. These observations have been made not taking in to account travel expenses to the project site and back. Only prices as stated on company homepages labeled ‘package price’ have been compared. No claim to general validity of this observation can be made as not all agencies state prices on their homepages and conditions of the volunteering ‘package’ may vary. In order to assess the reason for the different pricing of the project groups’ further research is needed.

Overall it can be said that three key project groups (animal, plant/ecosystem and humanitarian centered) could be identified, labeled from internet research and inserted into the volunteering tourism price pyramid.

1.2.3. Agencies as actors in Volunteer Tourism

As it has been said, some projects abstain from using agencies as facilitator between project, prospective volunteer and former volunteer. For the companies analyzed less than a third is marketing its project directly over their own homepage not using an outside agency. Several providers though heavily rely on agencies for these important communication tasks linking the potential volunteer and the project on site. Also the financial aspect cannot be ignored as “growing public demand for close encounters with wildlife, coupled with the potential of large revenues, has attracted the interest of a wide range of organizations to this sub-sector (Cousins, 2007, p.1021). In their status as facilitator lies a great responsibility with the agencies as they scan the applicants, decide who is ‘fit’ to volunteer for what project, brief and prepare the volunteer for their ‘mission’. This preliminary procedure is of key importance for the success of the volunteer placement (Raymond, 2007). While some agencies fulfill their task others fall short in one or the other resort. This has led to a number of criticisms directed towards the agencies.

The graphic models beneath show the ideal scenario portraying the agency as facilitator between all actors in the volunteer tourism industry displayed above a ‘flawed’ scenario summarizing the most expressed criticisms within current research. It is self-evident that opinions about the ‘ideal’ scenario vary, nonetheless some criticism are frequently heard in debates on volunteer tourism. Raymond in her ‘Ministry of Tourism Industry Report’ for example suggests four key stages for an optimized volunteering outcome for the volunteer and the host community (2007, pp.3). This paper argues that even if not all the steps from planning to de-briefing need to be in one hand, thorough communication, transparency and co-operation are necessary for a successful placement. While each individual project requires individual attention, the models below indicate actors, flows and exchanges that are common to most volunteering experiences.

Communication, transparency and fair sharing of resources (intellectual and material) take place between all actors.

To summarize, agencies are key actors in the volunteer tourism complex and their competence has significant influence not only on the internal success of the projects they are in charge of, but also on the external perception of volunteer tourism as sustainable form of travelling.

Literature Review - Current Research Foci in Volunteer Tourism

1.2.1 Disciplines engaging in volunteer tourism research

Research on Volunteer Tourism cannot be attributed to a single discipline. In fact the interest in this topic has constantly risen over the past twenty years, increasing the diversity of disciplines engaging in research on its many aspects. Precisely this wide range of topics within volunteer tourism, also described as “fuzziness” or issue full of “overlaps and ambiguities”, makes it a rewarding research object for disciplines from sociology to environmental studies (Lyons & Wearing, 2008, p.147). Obviously the key interests do differ from discipline to discipline, with some putting an emphasis on the volunteer sending regions, while others focus on the host communities running the projects on site or on the impact left behind by the volunteers.

While by no means exhaustive the model below indicates some of the main disciplines engaging in research on volunteer tourism along with their central interests. This can be read like a simplified map in order to gain a general overview of academic interests in volunteer tourism.

1.2.2 Introduction to literature and scope of this paper

Within volunteer tourism many academics have engaged in research on various components of this topic. They examined relationships between volunteers, host communities, agencies and non-volunteers as well as the motivations, values and concepts behind volunteering abroad. This part of the paper is dedicated to provide an overview of the trends within this area of research, some theoretical framework as well as it seeks to point out gaps in research or areas prone to further investigation.

It is self-evident that the discipline of tourism studies is preoccupied with Volunteer Tourism, especially so since the last decade when an absolute niche product gained wide public and media attention. By now it can be argued that a popular culture has formed around the realm of volunteering abroad. This can be exemplified with diverse internet forums dedicated to sharing experiences and advice around the topic of volunteering and travelling (see,

Along with public interest comes the potential for financial ‘exploitation’ of a concept such as volunteer tourism. All economic aspects of this topic are highly interesting and currently money flows are investigated in relation to project/conservation funding (Brightsmith et al. 2008) and willingness to pay analyses on the value of conservation efforts for groups of people (Campbell and Smith, 2006). Another research focus is the investigation of volunteer fee flows trying to determine how far they do support the actual project or whether a large proportion only benefits the booking agency (Palacios, 2010). While research into the economic dimension of volunteer tourism is a highly interesting field providing deep insights into the volunteer tourism market dynamics it is beyond the scope of this thesis to further examine this aspect.

Environmental science has been interested in the effects volunteer and ecotourism have on the ecosystems and regions they work and travel in. In this line of research human impact assessments are done with the practical relevance to either avoid further damage to ecosystems through voluntourists or provide recommendations for the sustainable ‘utilization’ of these resources by tourism (Davenport and Switalski, 2006; Gough and Scott, 1999). The area of human or more concrete tourism impact on the environment and the mitigation of these effects is another highly important research interest that also is beyond the scope of this paper.

In the following current literature from volunteer tourism research related to this papers three main topic areas, initial motivations and experienced benefits of volunteering, the role and importance of agencies as facilitators in the volunteering complex and thirdly an assessment of the volunteer as conducting scientific research. While volunteer tourism if frequently applauded for its’ undisputable potential to broaden horizons, provide support and finances to highly valuable projects, it is nonetheless faced with certain obstacles that can and will not be omitted within this paper. In order to analyze volunteer tourism as many aspects as possible should be taken into account. Unfortunately an encompassing analysis of thee literature and current research is beyond the scope of this paper; so thee focus will be on the above themes. These topic groups as well as more general challenges and opportunities as seen by ongoing research will be considered in order to then establish gaps in research on volunteer tourism.

1.2.3 Literature Review, Motivations to volunteer

Research on volunteer tourism mostly centers around “identities, behaviors, values, motives and personal development of the volunteer (Broad, 2003; Campbell & Smith, 2005, 2006; Halpenny & Caissie, 2003; McGehee, 2002, 2005; Stoddart & Rogerson, 2004; Wearing, 2001) quoted from: Gray and Campbell, 2007, p.464).

Since the research into volunteers motives can be perceived as a key to successful placements as well as a potential means to attract more people to internationally volunteer and in doing so potentially further cross-cultural understanding and provide aid, it represents one of the key questions in current research (Wilson, 2000; Zahara and McIntosh, 2007). This fact makes it worthwhile to dive into some of the main theories on the motivations to volunteer abroad.

The approaches to answer the motive question are manifold; it is argued that by analyzing field data from interviews with volunteers an analogy between ‘the international volunteer’ and Campbell’s “Heroes Journey” can be established relying on the common elements of “danger, challenges” and the opportunity for the volunteer “to fulfill his/her human potential” (Tomazos and Butler, 2010, p.366). While this comparison might seem a little far-fetched, volunteer tourism in many points does bear resemblance with what has been termed ‘rites of passage’ marking the transition from child- to adulthood and other cathartic episodes in a person’s life (Tomazos and Butler, 2010; Zahara and Mcintosh,2007; Palacios, 2010).

In the light of ‘fulfilling ones human potential’ the notion of ‘giving to others’ or ‘the gift of the self’ are recurring statements heard from volunteers when their incitements are inquired (Zahara and McIntosh, 2007, p.118). While it is commonly agreed that altruism does play a role in the volunteers set of motives, it does by no means stand alone (Daldeniz and Hampton, 2010). As has been demonstrated in a study comparing two groups of volunteers, assumed to have rather distinct motives, the outcome was that while motivations were weighted differently the main reasons for volunteering were similar (Daldeniz and Hampton, 2010, p.10). A crucial motive for volunteer journeys is the travelling itself, more precisely travelling not as a tourist but as a volunteer (Daldeniz and Hampton, 2010; Lyons and Wearing, 2008; Palacios, 2010; Campbell and Smith, 2006).

While the above motivations were observed by academics working mostly with volunteers in a ‘humanitarian aid’ context, for the group of volunteers taking part in wildlife conservation and rescue additional motivational factors have been identified. Interaction with wildlife beyond what ‘regular’ tourists can enjoy is a key motivator of volunteers in animal conservation as has been established, among others (Gray and Campbell, 2007) , by Campbell and Smith (2006). In their study on volunteers working in turtle conservation the participants expressed strong, emotional connections with the animals they were handling (2006, pp. 89). Similarly Fredline and Faulkner examined that 67.5% of tourists in Australia were motivated to travel there in order to sight and interact with animals (2001, p.i).

The above mentioned motivations to volunteer have been researched for the last decades, more recently less ulterior reasons to volunteer have gained increasing academic interest. More and more volunteers also choose to engage in unpaid work abroad in order to improve their job perspectives, employability and work experience (Thomas, 2001; Lyons and Wearing, 2008). Current research seeks to examine what kind of work market related skills volunteers could gain through volunteering on one hand and why it is still the case that exactly these skills are not adequately recognized and remunerated by the companies in the volunteers’ home country (Thomas, 2001).

1.2.4 Literature Review, Challenges and Limitations of Volunteer Tourism

Furthering cross-cultural understanding is one of the main tasks volunteering abroad is ideologically burdened with, while the realization of this ideal poses several difficulties (Lyons and Wearing, 2008; Palacios, 2010; Raymond and Hall, 2008). One of the most prevalent criticisms of the volunteer tourist concept is that it reinforces rather than challenges stereotypes that have been shaped by first colonialism and then the ‘eurocentric’ gaze of ‘the west’ (Palacios, 2010; Raymond and Hall, 2008). The ‘neo-colonialism’ critique is not a merely ideological one though; Palacios for instance puts forward the problematic that often volunteers are simply not capable to “produce effective help” (2010, p.863). Similarly it is argued that volunteer tourism “tends toward imperialism, reinforcing existing inequalities or at best, is ineffective in the face of global challenges “(Sherraden et al., 2008, p.396). While within voluntourism research there is some degree of agreement about the nature of the problem the scope of it is perceived differently as are the potential remedies. While some see the key to a more efficient volunteer engagement in an improvement of institutional organization in the volunteers home countries and better communication and recognition of skills acquired in the workplace as well as abroad (Thomas, 2001) others see the main responsibility lie in the hands of the agencies, NGOs and institutions (Raymond, 2007; McBride and Lough, 2008; Raymond and Hall, 2008).

Akin to research of volunteer tourism as potentially reinforcing existing stereotypes, ongoing work on the limitations to the alternative, environmentally and socially sustainable nature of the niche product volunteer tourism, also seeks to point out potential shortfalls of international volunteering. In this light Gray and Campbell’s’ paper suggest that at its worst ecotourism can be seen “as the commodification of people and places for the aesthetic consumption of self-indulgent tourists” describing the volunteer as aiming to “build identity through consumption” (2007, p. 466).

Seizing the characterization of volunteer tourism as a commodity, Sherraden, Lough and McBride’s study concludes that volunteers are going to continue utilizing their experience for their own advancement while no sustainable improvement is left behind with those having been aided (2007, p.414). Not being as drastic, Wearing, McDonald and Ponting also categorize experiences as commodity (2005). There is investigations on the “gradual processes of the commodification of alternative - and by extension, volunteer - tourism” which in itself constitutes some sort of antagonism (Lyons and Wearing, 2007, p.9).

While the term greenwashing, ‘conflating ‘greening’ and ‘whitewash’, is frequently encountered in research on sustainability marketing, meaning a company’s attempt to appear eco-conscious to their customers in order to maximize profits among all target groups while really paying little or no attention to practice sustainability (Belz and Peattie, 2009, pp.189), it found its’ way into volunteer tourism research as well (Wearing, McDonald and Ponting, 2005; Lyons and Wearing, 2007). Being aware of the potential negative influence of large corporations’ attempts to mask profit driven practices by ‘greenwashing’ Wearing et al. still argue that with mediation of NGOs these adverse practices can be avoided within the volunteer tourism framework (2005, p.427).

An inherent concern of volunteer tourism research is to establish or at least approach the borders of volunteering and ‘regular’ tourism (Gray and Campbell, 2007; Wearing, 2001). Defining ‘the volunteer tourist’ is another past and current research interest. While it is rather difficult to obtain representative data in most parts of the world, the United States do include volunteering abroad activities in regular censuses (Current Population Survey) and therewith scientists can make representative deductions about ‘the voluntourist’.

The characterization on ‘the’ volunteer tourist has been and is a central topic of inquiry within research. The average international volunteer is young, educated, white and rather wealthy (Lough, 2010; Sherraden, Lough and McBride, 2008; McBride and Lough, 2008; Wilson, 2000). As mentioned before data for thorough analysis of the demographic makeup of international volunteers is mostly available only in the United States of America. Nonetheless the above mentioned parameters are acknowledged to be valid for volunteers from other countries too. What motivates much of this research into volunteer demographics nowadays is to assess the accessibility of international volunteering experiences for different demographic groups (McBride and Lough, 2008). Varying with types of international volunteering work the positive influences it may have on the volunteer have been identified as “increased mental and physical health, life span, personal development, civic-mindedness and trust, and employability” (McBride and Lough, 2008, p.1).

Knowing about the beneficial effects of the experience for the volunteer the question of access becomes even more pressing and research suggests that at least some of the demographic characteristics may have exclusionary potential (Sherraden, Lough and McBride, 2008; Wilson, 2000). Coming from an economic background, Pho also puts forward the claim that “volunteering is positively correlated with education and income” making “white collar workers” more likely to engage in charitable efforts (2008, p.223).

While determining the reasons behind this imbalance in international volunteering, it is suggested that it may be due to “systematic exclusion” which could be deliberate or not (McBride and Lough, 2008, p.1).



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Tourismus Nachhaltigkeit Sustainability Volunteering Freiwilligenarbeit Afrika Questionnaire



Titel: Volunteer Tourism