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Voluntourism: Are The Extra Hands Helping? by Martin Stevenson


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Voluntourism is a growing travel sector and with it comes the pros and cons of volunteering abroad. For the volunteer, it can be a travel and learning experience, a new way of seeing the world while giving back, but for the local communities it may be disruptive, intrusive to local cultures and traditions or its benefits short lived. How effective and sustainable are voluntourism programs?

About Martin Stevenson: Originally from Cambridge, England, Martin Stevenson is a journalist, freelance travel writer, and founder and editor-in-chief of sustainable travel website More Than Footprints. Following a war of attrition between several gap-years spent travelling in Asia and his degree in South Asian Studies and Comparative Religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Martin worked in financial public relations in London and taught MBA courses at ESSEC business school in Paris. He has spent the last three years in Southeast Asia researching and writing ‘More than footprints? – How backpacking lost its way’. He is currently based in Kuala Lumpur.

Published in: Travel, Education
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Voluntourism: Are The Extra Hands Helping? by Martin Stevenson

  1. 1. “of little net benefit”? BACKPACKERS
  2. 2. “stay longer, travel further, and spend more than any other type of tourist” Australian Tourism Commission ●579,000 backpackers will visit Australia in 2013 ●AUS$5759 each ●AUS$3.3 billion BACKPACKERS
  3. 3. Definitions of Tourism ●Who sets the terms of that 'lease'? ●Who collects the rent? ●Who is responsible for the upkeep of the property? “The short-term leasing of other people's environments for the purpose of leisure”
  4. 4. Definitions of Voluntourism “The short-term leasing of other people's problems for the purpose of... what?” ●...getting a good Facebook profile pic? ●…giving something back on my gap-year? ●...helping? ●...feeling good about myself? ●...enhancing my CV?
  5. 5. The Issues 1. Charity? 2. Your CV, or theirs? 3. With Best Intentions 4. Are we really providing solutions? ‘A high turnover of caregivers has been shown to negatively impact children in care who must repeatedly try to form emotional connections with different adults.’
  6. 6. So, should we volunteer? Who is matching the desire with the need? YES!
  7. 7. Dear Voluntourism Organisations.
  8. 8. Dear Volunteers.. .
  9. 9. The Good News! Who are the real change agents?
  10. 10.
  11. 11. Thank You