International Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators


Published on

With the support of the Planeterra Foundation, the International Voluntorism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators has been produced by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), through a collaborative research and development process working with a wide range of industry leaders and voluntourism practitioners. The guidelines have been designed to assist international voluntourism providers plan and manage their programs in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

International Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators

  1. 1. International Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators voluntourism-guidelines
  2. 2. CONTENTSThe International Voluntourism Guidelinesfor Commercial Tour Operators 03 Introduction 04 I. Overview 05 I. Overview About the Guidlines Why Voluntourism Guidelines? Background Research Advisory Committee Definitions Voluntourism in Numbers 06 II. Sustainable Management 08 II. Sustainable Management 09 II. Sustainable Management II-1: Reality Check II-2: Marketing and Messaging II-3: Selecting and Working with Volunteers Local Knowledge and Local Presence Marketing Tips Voluntario Global FAQs Responsibly Managing Volunteer Tips on Communicating with Volunteers Teaching Programs 12 III. Measuring, Monitoring & Reporting 15 III. Measuring, Monitoring & Reporting 16 III. Measuring, Monitoring & Reporting III-1: Defining Success & Measuring Impact III-2: Transparency in Financial Reporting III-3: Non-Financial Reporting Community Needs Assessment Example: Global Vision International (GVI) Communication Tip: Listen to Your Volunteers! Example: Calabash Tours, South Africa Example: Planeterra Foundation 18 IV. Maximizing Benefits & Minimizing 19 IV. Maximizing Benefits & Minimizing 21 IV. Maximizing Benefits & Minimizing Negative Footprint Negative Footprint Negative Footprint IV-1: Benefits for Communities and IV-2: Managing Social and Economic IV-3: Supporting Biodiversity Conserva- Local Engagement Impacts tion and Heritage Preservation Example: GVI Child Protection Policy Example: SEE Turtles 22 23 Example: G Adventures V. Useful Tools & Resources V. Useful Tools & Resources V-1: Key Tools and Resources for Vol- V-2: Codes of Conduct and Ethical Principles Related to Community Well-Being untourism Providers V-3: Managing the Environmental Impact of Voluntourism Operations2
  3. 3. INTRODUCTION About | Planeterra Foundation | Advisory CommitteeAboutthe GuidelinesWith the support of the Planeterra Foundation, the International Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators have been developedby The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and an international advisory committee. The goal of this project is to develop a practical tool thatwill help international voluntourism providers plan and manage their programs in a responsible and sustainable manner.PlaneterraFoundationPlaneterra Foundation is a non‐profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve cultures and create ahumane and supportive system for their endeavors. Planeterra, through its global network of travel industry partners, supports a steady cycle ofgiving and investment in the social and environmental needs of people and places in the destinations they serve worldwide.TIES would like to thank the following members of the Planeterra team for their contributions to this project: Megan Epler Wood (Co-ExecutiveDirector and Voluntourism Guiidelines Project Leader), Paula Vlamings (Co-Executive Director) and, Kelly Galaski (Program & Operations Manager,Latin America).AdvisoryCommitteeTIES would like to thank the following members of the International Voluntourism Guidelines Advisory Committee, who have contributed to thisproject. Representing a variety of industry sectors and regions, the Advisory Committee members have helped ensure that the guidelines will reflecta diverse range of industry knowledge and experiences.Bodhi Garrett Valeria Gracia Sallie Grayson Leah Griffin Kristin Lamoureux, Ph.D. Lelei LeLauluCo-Director, Anda- Founder, Asociación Programme Director, Product Innovation Director, Int’l Institute of President, Communityman Discoveries Civil Voluntario Global People and Places Manager, G Adventures Tourism Studies, George Benefit DevelopmentThailand Argentina U.K. Canada Washington University U.S.A. U.S.A.Nancy McGehee, Ph.D. Paul Miedema Daniela Ruby Papi Gopinath Parayil Stephen Wearing, Ph.D Andy Woods-BallardAssociate Professor, Founder, Calabash Founder, PEPY Tours Founder & Chief Execu- Associate Professor, Director of Operations,Virginia Tech University Tours Cambodia tive, The Blue Yonder University of Technology Global Vision Interna-U.S.A. South Africa India Australia tional U.K. 3
  4. 4. I. OVERVIEWWhy Voluntourism Guidelines? | DefinitionsWhy VoluntourismGuidelines?Voluntourism* has experienced significant growth in recent years, and an increasing number of *What is voluntourism?commercial tour operators are adding volunteer opportunities to their itineraries. With such a See information on the defini-rapid growth of the popularity and awareness of voluntourism, many tourism businesses and tions of voluntourism seem to recognize the tremendous potentials that this field has to positively impactdestinations and communities around the world.The challenge - and opportunity - of transforming good intentions into best practices is a priority for all those involved in volun-tourism. In addition to many examples of successful and sustainable voluntourism initiatives, however, there have been concernsregarding cases where voluntourism programs offered by commercial tour operators are mismanaged, leading to negative impacts.Satisfying the desires of travelers to make a difference, giving back to destinations and creating lasting impact, while at the sametime ensuring that the local community needs are met, requires effective planning and management, and consistent monitoring ofvolunteer projects.Responding to the recent trends of commercial tour operators incorporating volun- *For the purpose of this document, the term “voluntourism providers” is used toteer programs into their itineraries, as well as the concerns that some companies may describe commercial tour operators provid-simply be “jumping on the bandwagon” to profit from people’s good intentions, the ing voluntourism programs as part of theirInternational Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators have been de- tour offerings. This does not include non-veloped to provide a practical tool to help voluntourism providers* plan and manage profit organizations and community-basedtheir programs in a responsible manner, and to contribute to the long-term success organizations that have been engaged in related fields (e.g. conservation, develop-of the voluntourism sector. ment) and have worked with volunteers. Voluntourism providers, as defined in thisThe Guidelines are designed to facilitate the sustainable development of voluntourism document this way, is the intended audi-programs, to share insights into managing voluntourism programs responsibly, and to ence of the Voluntourism Guidelines.offer lessons learned from successful examples of existing voluntourism initiatives.Definitions defines the term “VolunTourism” as In Volunteer Tourism:“The conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of Experiences that Makevoluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional a Difference, Wearing S.elements of travel -- arts, culture, geography, history and L. (2001), the term “vol-recreation -- in that destination.” untourists” is defined as “tourists who, for various reasons, volunteer in an organized way to under- take holidays that might involve aiding or alleviat- ing the material poverty of some groups in society, Publisher: CABI ( the restoration of certain “Volunteer tourism describes a field environments or research of tourism, in which travelers visit a destination and take part in projects into aspects of society or in the local community. Projects provides advice and resources for tour operators environment” (Wearing commonly nature-based, people-( 2001, p. 1). based...”4
  5. 5. I. OVERVIEW PARTNERS & SPECIAL THANKS Background Research | Voluntourism in NumbersVoluntourismIndustry SurveyIn May - June 2011, TIES and the Planeterra Foundation launched an industry survey to gatherdata on current issues, challenges, and opportunities in the field of voluntourism. Prior to creat-ing the survey questions, an extensive literature review was conducted to learn more about thecurrent challenges and ongoing work within the voluntourism field. The review included variouspublications, surveys, recent articles, and existing guidelines.The survey was distributed to members in the TIES database, members of the InternationalVolunteer Programs Association (IVPA), and other professionals or organizations involved withvoluntourism for which TIES had contact information. The industry sector categories used forthe survey are: academic; tour operator; local NGO/project; international NGO; local businesspractitioner; international business practitioner; voluntourism provider; and local voluntourismpartner organization. The results of the survey are published in the Voluntourism GuidelinesSummary Report, compiled and edited by Independent Researcher, Ashley Armstrong (Plan- The summary report is available foreterra Foundation), Megan Epler Wood (Planeterra Foundation) and Ayako Ezaki (TIES) with download at: from the Advisory Committee members. voluntourism-researchStakeholderMeetingsIn the 2011 Voluntourism Industry Survey, survey respondents TIES and Planeterra Foundation hosted stakeholder meetingsemphasized the need for transparency, communication, and during the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conferenceinformation within the field of voluntourism. In many cases, (Sept. 2011) with facilitation by Dr. Kristin Lamoreaux, and thesurvey respondents noted that appropriate processes are Adventure Travel World Summit (Oct. 2011) with facilitationlargely dependent on the nature of the project. Thus, projects by Dr. Kristin Lamoreaux and Alexia Nestora. Based on the datashould be approached on an individual basis, while keeping in gathered through the Industry Survey and feedback receivedmind the importance of being transparent, encouraging open from the Advisory Committee, the Stakeholder Meetingscommunication, and providing as much information as pos- focused on key issues related to the benefits and impacts ofsible to all parties involved. voluntourism programs, and best practices in marketing, com- munications and reporting by voluntourism providers.VoluntourismTrends & DiscussionsIn April 2012, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) In 2009, Community Marketing, Inc. launched the CMIGreenundertook a survey of over 140 members, who are tour opera- Traveler Study, designed to provide insights into the sustainabletors working in the adventure travel sector. According to ATTA’s travel market. According to the study, 59.1% of those surveyedreport, 55% of those surveyed “currently run volunteer trips”; said they were interested in volunteering; 74.4% have volun-of the remaining 45%, over 41% of them are “considering [volun- teered while traveling; 37.6% said the availability of volunteerteer trips] for the future”. Reasons cited for this included “grow- activity encouraged their selection of a destination; 69.9% saiding awareness and demand for ‘giving back’” as well as consumer that the most important goal of a volunteer travel experiencetrends towards local and sustainable initiatives. is to “give back.”; and 58% continued to be involved with the project they volunteered with after they returned home.Source: Source: 5
  6. 6. II. Sustainable ManagementReality CheckIs Voluntourism Right for You?For any company considering developing voluntourism programs, the most important question that should be asked at the very be-ginning of the endeavor is: “Is voluntourism right for my company, and why?” As evident from numerous news coverage and industryreports on the growth of volunteer travel, the voluntourism sector offers an attractive opportunity to engage travelers on a personallevel and to become actively engaged in projects that benefit local communities. This, however, does not mean that voluntourism isright for all companies. The motivations for setting up voluntourism programs must be in line with the company’s mission and theneeds and priorities of those who would be affected by the programs.The following guidelines offer key advice on questions to ask before investing time and resources to develop voluntourism programs,and questions for current voluntourism providers to assess the impact and effectiveness of their ongoing initiatives.II-1.Reality CheckII-1 (a) Voluntourism projects must be developed with the local communities’needs, and not the travelers’ or the company’s needs, as the first priority.● Voluntourism programs should be contributing to ongoing local efforts that can then be monitored and supported by investedlong-term stakeholders rather than creating initiatives without the full support or buy-in of local people.● While voluntourism programs may be part of for-profit operations, the core objective of offering voluntourism programs must beto address the needs of local people and their environments.● The operations of voluntourism programs and volunteers’ activities must not jeopardize the fundamental needs of the local com-munity, such as access to natural resources, rights to public lands and private properties, and the protection of intellectual property. Case in Point: Local Knowledge and Local Presence “Finding the right way to help” A small local bakery cooperative that for years struggled to maintain consistency in the taste, size, and texture of By Valeria Gracia, Voluntario Global, Argentina - In order to their bread worked with a community leader to identify successfully translate good intentions into effective programs, the root cause of their problem, and discovered that voluntourism programs must be developed, by legitimate lo- it was partly because the low literacy rate among the cal community members or organizations, in accordance with workers; they couldn’t follow written recipes. The coop- the needs of the community. There can always be new needs erative was then able to collaborate with a voluntourism and programs that can be developed to address those needs, organization to set up a new volunteer program helping but the right voluntourism opportunity will only be discovered the bakery workers learn how to read, as well as helping by a local leader or a group of local leaders who work with set up an efficient production process. specific objectives and long-term benefits in mind. In this example, the community leader’s contribution was Sometimes communities that need help may lack tools and critical not only in identifying the problem (inconsistency knowledge to effectively identify the root cause of existing in bread production) but also the root cause (workers in- problems, so working with a local leader to facilitate this ability to read the recipes), which the cooperative or the process is important. voluntourism provider alone couldn’t have achieved.6
  7. 7. II. Sustainable Management Why Voluntourism Guidelines? | DefinitionsII-1 (b) Create opportunities for lasting impact, and not quick change, that aresustainable.Voluntourism programs must be developed based on a clear long-term vision that takes into consideration necessary changes asprogress is made, and realistic plans for achieving and adjusting goals in the long-term, so that the programs can be sustained andcan continue to offer benefits while at the same time producing tangible results. For instance, once the road has been built, who willmaintain it? How will ongoing programming be developed to continue to support locally-prioritized needs? Case in Point: Responsibly Managing Volunteer Teaching Programs Inefficient and Inconsistent? Excellence in Teaching Volunteer programs that involve untrained foreign volun- GVI (Global Vision International), the winner of the teers participating in short-term teaching tasks (e.g. teach- 2011 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards for ing English) may be an easy way to engage most travelers, Best Volunteering Organization, has been recognized for but the students will likely suffer the consequences of excellence in its teaching programs, in which short-term inconsistent teaching styles and methods, as well as the volunteers take on less interactive roles with students negative emotional impact of meeting and parting with and instead assist the longer term volunteers, staff and teachers all the time. teachers.II-1 (c) Conduct a thorough analysis of various alternatives, and develop vol-untourism programs only if voluntourism is determined as a suitable option.It is important to recognize that there are many alternative tools and models to help fund and support development projects andsustainability initiatives, and that in some cases, developing volunteer programs may not be feasible or appropriate, for reasonsrelated to local cultural values, available infrastructure, and other factors shaping the local conditions in some destinations. Examples of Related OpportunitiesThere are a number of ways, including the following examples, tour operators can be part of giving back and making a difference.Evaluating some of these options should be part of the first step of deciding whether voluntourism is right for your company.Exchange Programs: There are many excellent international exchange programs for students and professionals, focusing on educa-tional experiences through cultural exchange, language learning, and community service. Partnering with an exchange program canbe an effective way for tourism companies to contribute to local initiatives.Jobs in Teaching, Development and Training: Programs such as Peace Corps ( and UNWTO.Volunteers Programmeby the UNWTO.Themis Foundation ( offer professionals with skills in various areas such as education and healththe opportunity to work as paid volunteers through medium- to long-term placements.Donating Goods and Resources: Lodges that have programs in place to support the well-being of local community members caninvolve travelers in their community efforts by accepting donations of necessary supplies. Pack for a Purpose ( a convenient platform to facilitate travelers’ donations of goods to participating lodges.Travelers’ Philanthropy: “Travelers’ Philanthropy” is a worldwide movement of travelers and travel companies giving financial re-sources, time, and talent to further the well-being of local communities. The Center for Responsible Travel offers in-depth informa-tion on Travelers’ Philanthropy, including case studies and best practices ( 7
  8. 8. II. Sustainable ManagementMarketing and MessagingCommunicating to Travelers about the WHY of Voluntourism ProgramsIt is important for voluntourism providers to be able to answer the question on why their mission matters, as well as what makestheir project effective, how it is achieved, and who is leading the effort. The messaging about voluntourism programs must clearlycommunicate project impact and demonstrate why volunteers are genuinely required, and help educate travelers about the social,environmental and economic issues that the voluntourism project aims to address before they begin their volunteer program.The following guidelines focus on recommended approaches for voluntourism providers in the areas of marketing and messagingrelated to their voluntourism programs.II-2. Marketing andMessagingII-2 (a) Use messaging strategies that II-2 (b) Avoid all forms of povertyclearly convey the goals of voluntour- marketing - such as using imagesism programs, why they are impor- or words (e.g. “helping people whotant and how they make a difference. can’t help themselves”) which belittle● To create effective messaging strategies, focus on concrete or degrade local people.examples of what volunteers can expect to gain in terms of ● The best way to illustrate this point is by asking (whenexperiences and perspectives, as well as the impact of volun- selecting images to use or choosing words to describe volun-tourism projects. tourism projects): “If it was your [child/sister/brother/mother] in the picture, or if those words were written about your family,● When establishing the marketing strategies for the voluntour- would you be comfortable?”ism programs, it is critical that both the voluntourism providerand the local partners share the same message about why thevolunteer projects are needed in the community. Marketing Tips: Utilize both online and off-line tools, as well as interactive platforms, to share stories and to engage volunteers in telling the stories of the projects they are supporting.The voice of the community members who benefit from the volunteer projects will be one of the most important story-telling tools.Highlight their stories about the impact of volunteer projects through video interviews.Sharing videos of volunteer activities is an effective way to tell the stories of communities and volunteers. Take advantage of videosharing platforms (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo) to spread the word.Sharing reviews by past volunteers is an effective way to encourage prospective volunteers to learn about the volunteer experience.This can be achieved by creating a web page with messages from past volunteers, posting past volunteer reviews as blog entries, orproviding a link to a travel review site (e.g. Lonely Planet Thorn Tree, GO! Overseas).In addition to reviews, other useful information such as stories from the field, local staff’s updates and destination and travel detailscan be shared through blog posts to engage your audience.Social networking sites can be used not only to promote voluntourism programs and share updates, but also to encourage travelersto interact with each other and exchange comments and ideas. Social platforms (e.g. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest) can be apowerful tool to engage travelers as active supporters before and after their trips.8
  9. 9. II. Sustainable Management Selecting and Working with VolunteersMaximize the Value of Volunteers’ ExperienceIn order to maximize volunteers’ potentials and to create meaningful experiences for both volunteers and host communities, volun-tourism providers must recognize pre-trip volunteer communications, training and orientation as a key part of voluntourism programdevelopment, and implement steps to address issues and concerns such as volunteers’ skill levels, cross-cultural understanding, andrealistic expectations of the impact of volunteer contributions.The following guidelines provide insights into pre-trip communications with volunteers as a critical part of voluntourism providers’responsibilities.II-3. Selecting andWorking with VolunteersII-3 (a) Proactively assist prospective volunteers with finding projects thatappropriately match their interests, skills, budgets and availability.● Many voluntourism providers have a user-friendly online ● Prospective volunteers should to be able to easily findtool such as a short survey to help identify the right match for such details as language requirements, restrictions, andvolunteers. physical work requirements. Level of ability in delivering quality services, such as ability to teach languages, should● It is recommended that voluntourism providers conduct be explicitly described to ensure the volunteer knows whatphone interviews for prospective volunteers to learn about the is expected in advance.specific skills and experiences required for each project. ● There should be no “fine print” to the information pro-● Voluntourism providers should be prepared to turn down vided for volunteers. All necessary information regardingtravelers looking to join an experience to which their skills, the trip and volunteer experience should be available priorabilities, interests, or attitudes are not aligned with the needs to the trip.and expectations of the host project.II-3 (b) Provide clear explanations on Case in Point: Voluntario Global FAQsthe goals and objectives of volunteer The following are some frequently asked questions that Volun- tario Global ( provides its volunteers asprojects, in order to avoid unrealistic part of pre-departure information:expectations or misunderstanding. Do we see the “full reality” when we arrive at a community?● When communicating to volunteers about the projects No, the reality of each person in marginal communities is muchthey are participating in, the pretrip communications should more complex than what is shown or can be seen with theinclude the “human element” of the voluntourism experience, naked addition to technical details. It is helpful to use examples to Why is “making mistakes” considered good in VG?highlight the expected emotional journey that volunteers may Because perfect projects and perfect volunteer programs doexperience during their stay. not exist! Because we learn from our mistakes. Mistakes are● While many travelers may prefer to be part of the begin- not failures but opportunities to improve.ning of the project (to be a “pioneer”) or the end (to gain a Is it normal to feel a little disappointed at not being able “tosense of accomplishment), as opposed to joining at the middle help more” in the project?stage, it is important for them to understand that voluntourism Yes. As people become more confident with the volunteers,projects are driven by local needs, and not the desires of the they will be more receptive and the volunteers might becometraveler to ‘feel good’. Voluntourism providers must provide more useful as their proposals will be heard. Trust is not some-sufficient information on why the specific type of work, no thing that can be earned in a set time.matter how mundane or seemingly insignificant, is necessaryand important. 9
  10. 10. II. Sustainable ManagementSelecting and Working with Volunteers Check List: Do you have the following information readily available for prospective volunteers considering your trip? Who will provide necessary on-the-ground support? What is the support system available for volunteers - is it coordinated through the voluntourism provider’s home office, or a locally-based system for each project? Before arrival, volunteers need to have a clear understanding of the levels and types of on-site support that will be available to them, details of accommodation arrangement, and what to expect during the stay. What is the emergency action plan of what to do and who to contact in case of emergency? What is the length and scope of training or orientation provided for volunteers? What do volunteers need to bring? What else is recommended for volunteers to pack? (e.g. If staying with a home-stay host, what is the guest expected to bring?) What should volunteers NOT pack?II-3 (c) Utilize pre-trip orientation to ensure appropriate levels of cross-culturalunderstanding, cultural sensitivity, and understanding of gender issues amongvolunteers.As part of pre-trip communications, voluntourism providers should clearly explain cultural standards of the local community (e.g.appropriate attire), and help volunteers prepare for their trip by learning cultural skills that will help make the volunteer’s experienceeasier. Tips on Communications with Volunteers: What to Pack, Do’s & Don’ts If there is clothing which is culturally inappropriate for the areas they are visiting, a packing list, with highlighted explicit details about what not to pack and the cultural implications of why, should be sent to the traveler well in advance of their visit so that they do not purchase or pack inappropriate gear. Utilize pre-trip orientation to ensure appropriate levels of understanding regarding natural and cultural heritage sites, and sites of religious or cultural significance that volunteers may come in contact with during their stay, and provide clear guidance on appropriate behaviors at such sites. If there are practices the traveler will need to adhere to, such as not touching a monk on a South East Asia trip, this information should be provided and highlighted in advance of travel, so as to avoid any mishaps on the day of arrival, but should be high- lighted again during an on-the-ground orientation to ensure the message was clear. If giving a donation is an acceptable and effective way to contribute to community needs in certain destinations, voluntourism providers should provide guidance on how to give, as well as information on what the money will be used for.10
  11. 11. II. Sustainable Management Selecting and Working with Volunteers NOTESII-3 (d) Provide sufficient informa-tion on volunteer opportunitiesthat are available to travelers withspecial needs, as well as clear guid-ance on accessibility services andassistance available upon request.II-3 (e) Implement steps to gatherfeedback from participating vol-unteers and promptly address anynegative feedback.● It is important for all volunteers to know how to give feed-back, and feel confident that they are welcome and encour-aged to share any feedback, positive or negative. Surveysthat encourage objective remarks at the end of each visitare ideal.● Negative feedback should be requested as soon as issuesarise and addressed in a timely and professional manner. Itis important to follow up to inform past and future volun-teers of what is being done or has been done to rectify theissue.● If there is a third party operating the travel experience,the traveler should be asked to give feedback to them aswell as directly to the voluntourism provider, in order to en-sure that the advertised voluntourism experience matcheswith the realities of their trip.II-3 (f) Clearly communicate aboutthe possibility that volunteering isnot the right option for some trav-elers due to a variety of reasons,and offer advice on other optionsto contribute to local communitygoals. 11
  12. 12. III. Measuring, Monitoring and ReportingDefining Success and Measuring ImpactMeasuring SuccessAn important part of voluntourism providers’ project development and management strategies must be measuring, monitoring andevaluating the effectiveness of each volunteer project. Measuring success will mean different things to different voluntourism provid-ers, based on the types, scopes and locations of their operations; however, it is critical for all voluntourism providers to put in place aconsistent process to assess, analyze and report on the impacts of volunteer activities. The following guidelines offer guidance on specific steps that voluntourism providers must take in order to define success and mea-sure impact, which will help make the reporting on voluntourism projects effective and credible.III-1: Defining Successand Measuring Impact III-1 (a) Conduct community needs assessment in order to ensure that the voluntourism program is fulfilling the needs of the community, and to en- sure volunteer projects’ benefits for local people. • Voluntourism projects should be set up when existing ongoing community or local organization-led projects have specific areas in which volunteers can contribute to the larger and ongoing goals of that overarching project. • Community needs assessment, therefore, should evaluate whether the current local projects have laid out their goals and metrics for success, and have established how volunteers can be utilized. III-1 (b) Collaborate with local partners to clearly define what the success of voluntourism projects means to the organization, to volunteers, and to community stakeholders. ● When identifying the right methods to measure voluntourism projects’ achievements, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each method and compare alternatives. For example, the number of books donated may be a convenient way of keeping track of the growth of a reading program, but may not address students’ reading ability in a meaningful way. On the other hand, measur- ing the literacy rate among students can be an effective way to monitor progress, but literacy can be laborious to measure. ● The impacts of voluntourism projects, in terms of meaningful benefits to communities and destinations, sometimes can only be measured in the long-term. For instance, the number of trees planted per trip does not give the full picture of the benefits that the tree planting program offers. A more valuable way to measure the program’s impact would be to use such indicators as the number of community members trained to properly manage the land where trees are planted, and additional environmental and educational benefits that tree planting provides. ● Depending on the size and scope of voluntourism providers’ operations, there will be different types of requirements to fulfill in order to properly measure and monitor the impacts of voluntourism projects. It is recommended that voluntourism providers seek best practice examples of organizations that are of similar size.12
  13. 13. III. Measuring, Monitoring and Reporting Defining Success and Measuring Impact Community Needs Assessment There are numerous ways to approach this very important step, all of which require an investment of time, money, and expertise, and all require strong collaboration within the destination community. Some examples of community needs assessment methods include: SWOT analysis: Create a matrix of a given project’s Strengths, Weaknesses (or Limitations), Opportunities and Threats in order to evaluate the project’s potential and to determine whether the objective is attainable. “Future’s Wheel” exercise with community stakeholder input: The Futures Wheel exercise forms the foundation for a workshop or a col- laborative meeting to assess community needs and identify opportunities. A Futures Wheel usually begins with a “What if …?” question or a state- ment about a desirable future. The desirable future statement is placed in a circle in the center of a large page or on a white board. Participants are then asked to suggest a series of necessary conditions that must happen to achieve that desirable future. Each of these conditions is given its own circle in a first ring around the desirable future center, connected with spokes of the wheel. The participants are then asked to think further about these con- ditions and what could contribute to them. This forms the next ring around the center of the wheel, and also is connected with spokes. The outcome af- ter three or four rounds of discussion is a series of pathways between differ- ent types of ideas, necessary conditions and opportunities, and a desirable future of the community. (Source: McGehee et all, TTRA conference 2012) Community Capitals Framework: Community Capitals Framework (Cornelia and Jan Flora, 2008) looks at key characteristics of entrepreneurial and sustainable communities that are most successful in supporting a vital economy, social inclusion and healthy ecosystems. These communities pay attention to all seven types of capital: natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial and built. In addition to identifying the capitals and the role each plays in community economic development, this approach also focuses on the interaction among these seven capitals as well as how investments in one capital can build assets in others. (Source: Example from the Field: Calabash Tours, South Africa “Monitoring and evaluation are not exact science because outcomes often take time to manifest. We have also found that sometimes we find “new” indicators we had not thought of. In our education programme, we compare the results of the school we are active in to local, provincial, and national performance in external exams. This is an effective measurement. However, we have found that volunteers drive up school attendance, as children enjoy the new input. This was not some- thing we started measuring, we simply observed it. So we need to keep in mind that indicators are dynamic.” - Paul Miedema, Founder, Calabash Tours, South Africa 13
  14. 14. III. Measuring, Monitoring and ReportingDefining Success and Measuring ImpactIII-1 (c) Implement a system to conduct third-party community needs assessmenton a regular basis, not only at the beginning but throughout the project.● While there are various existing tools and programs (e.g. third-party rating systems or standards) that can help track voluntourismproviders’ triple-bottom-line performance, first and foremost, voluntourism providers should ensure that objective and professionalapproach to assess community needs on an ongoing basis is in place.● If the voluntourism provider is partnering with a locally based organization, the official impact assessment procedure should beunderstood and agreed upon in advance, and if the organization must incur additional costs to monitor the voluntourism impact, thevoluntourism operator should consider how they will contribute to funding these costs.III-1 (d) Establish a system to monitor progress and measure impact, taking intoaccount local capacity-building needs and improvements.● Where possible, plan and develop programs in a way that volunteers do not need to be relied on perpetually into the future. Ifthe volunteer is providing a skill which is not readily available in the local community or project team, for example, the volunteer’sresponsibilities should include helping other long-term project members to develop the necessary skills to manage certain aspects ofthe programs (e.g. accounting, marketing) in the long term.● Where possible, plan and develop programs with an “exit strategy”; a plan of passing the program into the hands of local commu-nity members, taking into account questions such as: is there a local community group or organization prepared to take the effortson, and are they receiving proper training to achieve necessary ongoing maintenance? Example from the Field: Planeterra Foundation Impact Monitoring for Volunteer Projects: Planeterra Foundation works to link community projects with travel industry partners in order to develop volunteer trips. The foundation, based in Toronto, Canada, has over 20 projects around the world with a growing need for local interface and management. In 2010, the Planeterra Ambassador program was established to provide monitoring and evaluation in hubs in- cluding Thailand, Costa Rica, Peru and Egypt. Planeterra Ambassadors are hired primarily from the talent team represented by tour leaders working locally for Planeterra’s primary sponsor, G Adventures. These Ambassadors are carefully vetted and work on contract directly for Planeterra to review project performance based on clear criteria established for all Planeterra projects. The new Voluntourism Guidelines criteria will guide Planeterra’s efforts to measure the impact and evaluate the success of their volunteer projects. In the fall of 2012, a base- line socio-economic study will be initiated to measure progress on all Planeterra projects. Draft evaluation and monitoring items include: • Risk Mitigation: What issues, if any, are you encountering at • Social Impacts: the project site that Planeterra should be aware of? What are • Improved access to education: Number of new school the steps you are taking to resolve this? rooms; Teaching resources and aids; Workshops and tech- • Number of Individuals directly served. nical education. • Populations served by project including rural communities, • Improved access to health: Number of new clinical spaces indigenous peoples, women, etc. established; New equipment; New staff; Medications. • Economic impact of visitors. • Improved access to markets: Number of new clients • Environmental mitigation actions & conservation initiatives. attracted by small enterprises; New marketing and sales • Revenues and profits of small business supported by grants. opportunities.III-1 (e) Clearly outline and implement a consistent process in which volunteerswho behave inappropriately or unethically can be removed from a project.• If the volunteers are working in a community project or with a partner organization, the partner should be able to remove the vol-unteer from the project due to unethical or harmful behavior, and the partner organization should be able to dissolve the partnershipshould they find that the volunteer program is ineffective or causing harm.• The terms upon which a volunteer could be removed or the partnership dissolved should be agreed upon in advance, in a mannerthat is transparent and fair to all parties including local communities, partner organizations and voluntourism providers.14
  15. 15. III. Measuring, Monitoring and Reporting Transparency in Financial ReportingWhere Does the Money Go?One of the questions often asked by travelers and host community members regarding voluntourism is “Why do travelers pay tovolunteer their time?”. It is important for voluntourism providers to have a good answer to this question, not only because it is goodcustomer service practice, but also because the answer is key to explaining how voluntourism works: where does the money go andhow does the volunteer project make an impact? From the business perspective, it is also important to acknowledge that there is avalue-added in being transparent, because it offers the opportunity for voluntourism providers to distinguish themselves by estab-lishing a positive reputation as a transparent, responsible, and reliable organization.The following guidelines address key issues related to financial reporting by voluntourism providers, and offer guidance on how bestto ensure transparency, responsibility, and accountability in financial reporting of voluntourism programs.III-2: Transparencyin Financial ReportingIII-2 (a) Implement a consistent method to calculate and report on theamount of money per trip that goes to support the community or destination,and the amount that goes to support the operations of voluntourism pro-grams.Depending on the size, type, and location of the voluntourism project, the “amount that goes back to the community” may be mea-sured differently; therefore, it is critical that voluntourism providers clearly explain how this is calculated and provide regular andconsistent reporting.III-2 (b) Employ a consistent method of calculating and reporting on theamount of both cash and in-kind donations.● If accepting unrestricted funds through individual donations is part of voluntourism providers’ operations, the costs involved inraising and managing such funds, including transaction fees, should clearly be indicated as part of annual financial reporting.● The amount of money donated to the partner organization, if any, should be made clear. Example from the Field: Global Vision International (GVI) GVI reports on the financial contributions of voluntourism projects and their impact by calculating the percentage of volun- teer fees that goes to the field operations: “70% of funds from volunteer fees goes to field operations”*. “Field operations” as referred to here include in-country services such as airport pick-ups, food, and accommodations. This is a “supply chain approach” to reporting on the financial impact of voluntourism in each destination, looking at all aspects of voluntourism trips, including local operators and in-country field staff. This model shows what stays in country, and thus focuses on the impact of voluntourism for the sustainable development of the destination overall, rather than just on community devel- opment. GVI informs travelers about how the rest (30%) of volunteer fees is used: “The remaining 30% that is not directly invested in our programs covers the cost of volunteer recruitment, the operations of our head offices, and the support of projects indirectly through the GVI Charitable Trust. Our offices are of vital importance to ensure the safety and well-being of all our volunteers and our charity is an essential tool of providing financial support to our ongoing efforts.” (*Source: “Participant Fees” on GVI’s website: 15
  16. 16. III. Measuring, Monitoring and ReportingTransparency in Non-Financial ReportingStorytelling as Part of Objective ReportingWhile non-financial aspects of voluntourism providers’ impacts and achievements are difficult to measure, part of the main objec-tives of annual reports should be reporting on social impacts, intangible benefits and non-financial contributions that voluntourismprograms make. This type of reporting is not necessarily a clear value-added, but may serve as a marketing differentiator, because intoday’s world of social media and instant communications, where travelers have the means to readily share their opinions (positiveor negative) and find others’, being seen as a trustworthy and reliable organization is a clear advantage.The following guidelines provide insights into best practices in non-financial reporting as an essential part of objective and transpar-ent communications on voluntourism providers’ performance.III-3: Transparencyin Non-Financial ReportingIII-3 (a) Make publicly available information on the short- and long-termimpact of voluntourism projects in order to help travelers make objectivedecisions in choosing a volunteer opportunity.● Reporting on the short-term impact of voluntourism should include: results of voluntourism projects; which goals were achieved;economic and other benefits; and feedback from the local partner.● Reporting on the long-term impact of voluntourism should include: the economic, environmental and social sustainability ofvoluntourism projects; the benefits of training and other opportunities that local community members have access to because ofvolunteers’ work; and additional benefits for the local community that are made possible by voluntourism programs (e.g. localinfrastructure improvements).● In most voluntourism programs, the volunteers themselves receive an explicit benefit, and this should also be tracked and re-ported. Measuring success in educating travelers on responsible tourism behaviors, cultural norms, and a humble approach totheir volunteer activities is essential and interconnected with the overall program impact.III-3 (b) Include transparent reporting on the results and findings of regularcommunity needs assessments.Having an ongoing community needs assessment system led by a third-party professional will help ensure transparency in theevaluation process, as well as the credibility of reporting.16
  17. 17. III. Measuring, Monitoring and Reporting Transparency in Non-Financial Reporting NOTES III-3 (c) Show, not just tell, the values of voluntourism programs ● Telling stories and sharing anecdotes from the local community members’ perspectives (explaining their ex- periences in their own words) can be an effective way to complement financial and non-financial reporting of the impacts of voluntourism programs. For example, what have they witnessed after volunteers left the site? Would they choose to work with the voluntourism provider again for a different project? ● Telling stories and sharing anecdotes through first- hand accounts of past volunteers can also be a valu- able addition to voluntourism providers’ reporting on voluntourism programs’ impacts and the benefits for participating travelers. For instance, what were some of the most important lessons they’ve learned, and how have they grown from the volunteer experience? Communication Tip: Listen to Your Volunteers!To find honest opinions by past volunteers about your pro- Save and regularly monitor a Twitter search for your organiza-grams, be sure to monitor what they are sharing on social sites tion’s name and other relevant terms. For example, monitorlike Facebook, and not just what is posted on your own page Twitter search feed for hashtag #voluntourism (See photo:but also what people are saying about your programs on other For example, in TIES’ case, monitor both the officialFacebook page ( and the unofficialpage ( 17
  18. 18. IV. Maximizing Benefits and MinimizingNegative FootprintBenefits for Communities and Local EngagementCollaborating with Local CommunitiesEstablishing and maintaining a positive relationship with local volunteer project managers and partners is critical to the successof any voluntourism program operations. Serious problems might arise unless both parties share an appropriate understanding ofbusiness standards that the voluntourism provider follows, and the local needs and priorities based on the community’s social andcultural values.The following guidelines address issues and opportunities related to community engagement and local participation in voluntourismprograms.IV-1: Benefits for Communitiesand Local EngagementIV-1 (a) Ensure effective approaches to collaborating with local communitiesby building relationships with community groups and families.It is important to note that establishing a partnership with a community is not a simple task that could be achieved by just havinga meeting with a community leader. Voluntourism providers must actively seek feedback and engagement not only from communitymembers that play leadership roles such as public officials and heads of local NGOs, but also from those that represent less promi-nent groups, in order to gain tangible insights into the local community members’ perspectives about tourism development andtheir opinions on hosting volunteers in their community.IV-1 (b) Provide local community members with sufficient information onthe effectiveness of the volunteer projects, and the expected impact of thevolunteer projects both in the short and long term.● In order to ensure that volunteer projects are supported by local stakeholders, voluntourism providers must demonstrate howvolunteers can contribute to local community needs, and how the projects depend on volunteers to attain tangible results.● It is recommended that voluntourism providers develop a few measurable indicators (where appropriate measured against localor national benchmarks) that can be used to provide concrete examples of volunteers’ contributions.IV-1 (c) Seek feedback from local community members regarding their experi-ences hosting, interacting and collaborating with international volunteers.● There must be a process in place to regularly gather feedback in order for voluntourism providers to assess whether local commu-nity members involved in voluntourism projects are satisfied with the impact and progress made by the projects.● Local community members should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about the voluntourism projects and aboutthe volunteers’ work performance.● Negative feedback should be addressed in a timely and professional manner, and voluntourism providers should inform commu-nity members of what is being done or has been done to rectify the issue.18
  19. 19. IV. Maximizing Benefits and Minimizing Negative Footprint Managing Social and Economic ImpactsGood Intentions Are Not EnoughWhen it comes to the social and economic impacts of voluntourism, especially for voluntourism programs that involve working withmarginalized community members, poor families, children and women, good intentions are not enough, and industry experience hasshown that good intentions without responsible management policies and practices can - and often will - do more harm than good.The following guidelines focus on effectively managing the social and economic impacts of voluntourism programs, and therebyhelping maximize the benefits of voluntourism programs for the local communities and destinations.IV-2: Managing Socialand Economic ImpactsIV-2 (a) Develop and implement a code of conduct regarding working withlocal and Indigenous communities, families and children, and respecting theirrights, needs and priorities.In order for this process to be successful and effective, it must be led by local community stakeholders who have the experience andknowledge to guide the process. Example from the Field: GVI Child Protection Policy “GVI Child Protection Policy aims to ensure that the actions of any person in the context of the work carried out by Global Vision International are transparent and safeguard and promote the welfare of all young people and children associated with the organization. Principles upon which the Child Protection Policy is based: • The welfare of a child or young person will always be paramount. • The welfare of families will be promoted. • The rights, wishes and feelings of children, young people and their families will be respected and listened to. • The organization will follow safer recruitment practices and criminal background checks during our selection process for all GVI staff and any volunteers working on GVI childcare and teaching projects. • Any allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and the appropriate Child Protection Procedures will be followed. • Those people in positions of trust or responsibility within the organization will work in accordance with the legal and safe guarding frameworks as well as with the interests of children and young people, following GVI Child Protection Policy at all times.” (Source: 19
  20. 20. IV. Maximizing Benefits and MinimizingNegative FootprintManaging Social and Economic ImpactsIV-2 (b) Maximize the opportunities to provide financial benefits for localpeople by incorporating responsible and equitable employment, capacitybuilding, and fair-trade practices where applicable.In order to effectively track benefits for local community members, voluntourism providers should work with community leaders toassess the progress of volunteer initiatives.IV-2 (c) Voluntourism providers should not only comply with internationalstandards of responsible business practices, but also proactively support theefforts to combat all types of commercial sexual exploitation in destinationsand tourism establishments.● Voluntourism providers, as part of their commitment to ethical business practice and respect for human rights, should comply withsuch internationally accepted standards as the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct ( and the Child Safe Network’sChildSafe Traveler Tips (● Voluntourism providers should engage trained staff member(s) responsible for implementing a child protection policy.IV-2 (d) Example from the Field: G AdventuresRequire backgroundchecks before selecting For G Adventures’ volunteer trips (both for sale by G Adventures directly and exclusively produced trips for sale by STA Travel), the company employsvolunteers, including (but a criminal background check for all trips involving children or elderly. Thenot limited to) criminal volunteers buying trips through travel agents go through this process after they purchase the trips, but the company reserves the right to cancel andrecord and criminal his- refund if there are any charges or red flags in their background check, ap-tory checks, in order to plication form, and reference letter (all three of these items are collected at time of booking confirmation and red flags are sent to local projects for theirprotect the safety of all final decision on whether or not the volunteer may participate). See moreparties involved. information here: (e) Implement a strict zero-tolerance policy to ensure there is noinappropriate behaviors by volunteers when interacting with children.Establish contact with appropriate local authorities in case of any violation; voluntourism providers must be able to react quicklyand appropriately.20
  21. 21. IV. Maximizing Benefits and Minimizing Negative Footprint Supporting Biodiversity Conservation and Heritage | Definitions Why Voluntourism Guidelines? PreservationMinimizing Negative Footprint, Maximizing Positive ImpactVoluntourism providers have the opportunity to positively contribute to the protection of wildlife, the conservation of biodiversity,and the efforts to protect and preserve tangible heritage (e.g. buildings and historic places, monuments, artifacts) and intangibleheritage (e.g. folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge) through effective volunteer programs that support social, environmentaland economic sustainability. Many travelers, after experiencing the world’s beautiful natural and cultural treasures, become advocatefor conservation and heritage preservation. The personal connections that travelers cultivate through engaging travel experiences -such as volunteering - are a powerful tool to protect what makes our travel experiences so unique and memorable.The following guidelines focus on basic tenets of impact management and conservation practices that voluntourism providers shouldstrive to follow in order to contribute positively to biodiversity conservation and heritage preservation efforts.IV-3: Supporting BiodiversityConservation and Heritage PreservationIV-3 (a) Develop and manage wildlife conservation and heritage preservation-related volunteer projects with the emphasis on local context.● No conservation or preservation program can be successful unless the local community members are the primary stakeholders inthe efforts.● By engaging, educating and empowering local community members to be the stewards of these efforts, voluntourism providerswill be able to enhance the positive impact of their work in the areas of biodiversity conservation and heritage preservation.IV-3 (b) Implement a strict code of con-duct to ensure responsible behaviors Example from the Field:by volunteers when they come in contactwith cultural heritage, historic sites, or SEE Turtlesartifacts. SEE Turtles, a conservation tourism project by The Ocean Foundation, provides travelers withIt must be clearly communicated to volunteers that irresponsible advice on how to reduce impact and do’s andbehaviors such as graffiti, unauthorized purchase or trading and dont’s when turtle watching: “When you visit adisrespectful display, are not tolerated. nesting beach, go with a trained, professional guide who can ensure your safety and the turtle’s. In the water, whether boating, snorkel-IV-3 (c) Implement a strict code of con- ing, or diving, remember that the ocean is homeduct to ensure responsible behaviors by for turtles and other wildlife.” (Source: www. when interacting with wildlifeor working in areas close to wildlife habi-tats.● Pre-departure materials and on-the-ground orientations should provide specific instructions on ways to reduce the negativeimpact of the tourism experience.● It must be clearly communicated to volunteers that unauthorized or improper interaction with wildlife is not tolerated.● In addition to minimizing direct disturbance, voluntourism providers and volunteers should also strive to minimize any indirectimpact on wildlife, such as noise and light pollution and runoff water pollution. 21
  22. 22. V. Useful Tools & ResourcesKey Tools and Resources for Voluntourism ProvidersTake Advantage of Existing Industry Knowledge and ToolsA number of organizations have created tools to assist tour operators in successfullyimplementing voluntourism projects in a socially, environmentally and economically Any other suggestions on voluntourism- related tools and resources? Please feelsustainable manner. Utilizing these existing tools is a smart way for voluntourism pro- free to contact TIES (info@ecotourism.viders to take advantage of current industry knowledge and learn from other organiza- org) and let us know! We will continue totions’ experiences, lessons, and best practice examples. share relevant information on voluntourism through our website (,This section provides information on some of the existing tools and resources (listed TIES-EXCHANGE network ( in alphabetical order) that are available for voluntourism providers, and insights, and other channels, andon how they might be utilized as part of strategies for planning and managing volun- welcome feedback on an ongoing basis.tourism programs in a responsible and sustainable manner.V-1: Key Tools and Resourcesfor Voluntourism ProvidersFTTSA (Fair Trade in Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) Certification Standards: Building on the “Code of Good Practice for Responsible Volunteering”, which was launched in 2008, theTourism South Africa) FTTSA’s certification program was expanded, in 2010, to incorporate certification standards for volun- tourism organizations.Fair Trade The Fair Trade Volunteering Criteria: 1. Minimum “Local Investment” Level: Organizations provide investment into the project itself above andVolunteering beyond the volunteer’s time and work. This can be in the form of finance, resources or training. 2. Long Term Commitment to the Project (Min. 3 Years): Organizations have a direct relationship with the host project or community, and develop the project in joint communication with their project partners. 3. Clear and Honest Project Description and Thorough Volunteer Preparation: Give clear, comprehensive and honest descriptions of their projects and have an appropriate pre-departure selection, preparation and training programme. 4. In-Country Support and Project Management: Volunteers receive constant support and regular com- munication while on site at their project. 5. 100% Volunteer Expenses Covered by the Placement Organization, Not the Local Community: Organi- sations ensure that 100% of volunteer expenses on site (food, accommodation, transport) are covered, and are not in any way the responsibility of the local community.IVPA (International Principles and Practices:Volunteer Programs IVPA supports and advocates these Principles and Practices as a means of ensuring program quality and appropriate volunteer behavior in international/intercultural settings. They are also meant to give pro-Association) spective volunteers a reliable basis on which to choose worthwhile program experiences. Voluntourism101:PEPY Tours Voluntourism101 is a tool created to help tour operators and volunteer sending agencies check their practices against the most effective practices shared by groups around the world. It is also a tool for trav- elers to help them identify the best questions to ask before their next philanthropic travel experience. In addition, the Learning Service Guidelines are designed to help travelers and tour operators consider the educational impact on travel with regards to the learning opportunities for the travelers themselves.Tourism Concern The Gap Year and International Volunteering Standards (GIVS): GIVS aims to promote best practice in international volunteering, to maximise the beneficial develop- mental impacts in the communities where volunteering takes place, minimise the negative impacts, and to ensure volunteers have a worthwhile experience.Year Out Group Member’s Charter: The Year Out Group Member’s Charter aims to ensure certain standards of quality and professional conduct. Adherence to Member’s Charter is a condition of membership and all members are required to sign a declaration of agreement to abide by it.22
  23. 23. V. Useful Tools & Resources Community Well-Being | Environmental ImpactV-2: Codes of Conduct andEthical Principles Related to Community Well-BeingThe Tourism Child- The Code: The Code of Conduct for the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism is anProtection Code of industry driven responsible tourism initiative co-funded by the Swiss Government (SECO) and by the tourism private sector and supported by the ECPAT (Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking) Inter-Conduct national network, in partnerships with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).The ChildSafe ChildSafe: The ChildSafe Network, initiated and coordinated by Friends-International, is a proactiveNetwork child-protection network involving key members of society, protecting children from all forms of abuse and preventing child exploitation and trafficking. Fair Trade Principles:Fair Trade Federation ○ Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers ○ Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships ○ Build Capacity ○ Promote Fair Trade ○ Pay Promptly and Fairly ○ Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions ○ Ensure the Rights of Children ○ Cultivate Environmental Stewardship ○ Respect Cultural IdentityV-3: Managing the EnvironmentalImpact of Voluntourism OperationsTIES The definition and principles of ecotourism: Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environ-(The International Ecotour- ment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990) Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those whoism Society) implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles: ○ Minimize impact. ○ Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect. ○ Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts. ○ Provide direct financial benefits for conservation. ○ Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people. ○ Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.GSTC The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria: The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, established by the GSTC, are organized around(Global Sustainable Tourism four main themes (effective sustainability planning; maximizing social and economic ben- efits for the local community; enhancing cultural heritage; and reducing negative impactsCouncil) to the environment), and provide the minimum standards for sustainable tourism. The Criteria include recommendations on environmental practices such as: measuring and reducing consumption and waste, monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, and greening the supply chain of tourism operations. 23
  24. 24. The research and development project to produce the International VoluntourismGuidelines for Commercial Tour Operators has been made possible by the generoussupport of the Planeterra Foundation.