Widening the Field: The Travel Industry, Voluntourism and International Volunteering

Over the past decade field of international volunteering has seen incredible growth. Though the recession did impact growth trends, those in the field are optimistic about its continued recovery and growth. The travel industry has certainly latched onto the idea of voluntourism or volunteering while on vacation and we continue to see new trip packages that offer a way to volunteer to “give back”. Royal Caribbean just announced a new land excursion offered in Cozumel, Mexico that gives cruise-goers the chance to volunteer with the Mexican Red Cross doing landscaping at their new facility and the proceeds for the excursion going to the Red Cross.

There are of course many variations of volunteer trips. A decade ago, before the term voluntoursim became popular, international volunteering was in some respects separate from the travel industry or perhaps a subset of the industry. More and more we are seeing a blurring of the lines delineating vacationing and volunteer travel. As the field continues to grow and diversify I think we will see more questions about responsible volunteering, quality service and ethical partnerships.  So what do you think, is the broadening of the field of international volunteering a good thing?

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