How is voluntourism going to continue in 2011?
Voluntourism in its simplest sense is volunteering while traveling. Volunteers in such programs frequently participate in environmental or social welfare projects.
It is a way to learn about the people and place you are visiting on a deeper level. Participating in voluntourism is a way to establish long-lasting connections, discover more about cultures around the world, and about yourself. It is most definitely a way to give back to a community you are visiting, to lend a helping hand to someone in need, to work towards a cause you believe in, or simply to find a way to make a positive impact through your travels.
''One of the most important challenges is ensuring long-term benefits and positive impact of voluntourism projects,'' says Ayako Ezaki, director of communication for TIES.
While many people are genuinely thrilled about this form of volunteering there are others that think differently. The truth of the matter is if you don’t carefully choose an experienced organization you may do more harm then good. Business methods used by tour operators, such as exclusivity deals, and catering to the needs of the volunteer rather than the volunteer project, exploit the communities the projects are intended to help.
Claims by volunteer tourism organizations that these activities contribute to improving people's lives and contributing to development goals are yet to be evaluated in the vast majority of cases. It is possible that volunteer travel might excacerbate existing problems in the host community. Many people have different opinions about voluntourism. We would like to hear your opinion about this topic to get a deeper view of the negative and positive side.