New Voluntourism Survey

Have you seen this survey being passed around travelers? It is being conducted by Georgian College post-graduate research analyst students in partnership with Planeterra, to learn about travelers’ needs and current trends in voluntourism. Can you help by sending it off to your list so they get the most data possible?

Richard Edwards of Planeterra commented, “Academia is taking more notice of voluntourism as a rapidly emerging and somehow important niche in tourism, though I think everyone would agree that there is a lack of full understanding of exactly how important it is by all involved. The work we’re doing with research analyst students at Georgian College may help to clarify how important it is to the traveling public. We hope to incorporate the results into our efforts to constantly improve the knowledge surrounding voluntourism. We are very focused on the communities in most of our development thinking. Here we’ll be looking more at the travelers – their preferences, their interests, what works best and what can be improved, and how those engagements need to be managed to ensure they are mutually beneficial to the traveler and the local community. The data will also be a contribution to work we’re doing to help ensure the experience is providing the optimal contribution to the destinations, with the goal of developing viable, sustainable voluntourism that contributes to community development worldwide.”

To see the survey click here.

Industry Snapshot Q3/4 2009: Adventure Travel companies in this economy

This data was recently presented at an Adventure Travel Trade Association meeting in Boulder – not exactly voluntourism but I think the data should be comparable.

  • 2009 Assessed 250+ tour operators, based all around the globe
    • 2,000,000+ customers represented
    • Average price point (land only) of approx $2,700

Salient points:

  • They weathered the economic storm better than mass tourism
  • 8% flat sales in 08, while 33% were UP
  • About half expected 09 to end up flat or higher than 08
  • The mass tourism industry saw nothing but erosion and decrease in 2009


  • They are innovative- 50% expect to INCREASE inventory offering with only 13% reducing
  • They have the ability to flex- in pricing and promotions and many have maintained pricing.
  • 2010 outlook (120 companies responded as of this morning) 66% see their 2010 as being UP over 2009, 17% flat. ‘Tempered optimism.’

Spring Break in Haiti???

A recent CNN article came out about teens going to Haiti for spring break to volunteer. Anyone else think this is a bit premature? Will it only serve the volunteers that want to feel better about themselves or can real sustainable work be done so close to a disaster by untrained volunteers? Would love to hear both sides of the debate!

The article:

CMI Green Traveler Study: Focus on Voluntourism

In case everyone hasn’t seen this recent voluntourism survey – some interesting points:

  • 25.6% of respondents reported that they have volunteered while traveling.
  • 59.1% said they are interested in volunteering during a future trip.
  • 37.6% of respondents indicated that the availability of volunteer opportunities would be a factor in selecting a vacation destination.
  • One in eight said they include volunteering as a part of what it means to be a green traveler.
  • 5.1% of respondents reporting “volunteer trip” as one of the purposes for travel over the last year.
  • 3.1% said they hoped to “leave the destination better” off than they’d found it.
  • For cruise passengers, 12.2% said shore-based volunteer excursions were among the top five most important environmental initiatives they sought.
  • Of those who have volunteered, 58% said they have continued to stay involved with the volunteer project since they returned.

Check out the full article and survey

Fundraising Ideas for Volunteers

One of the main hindrances of taking a volunteer vacation is often the cost. Companies that have been around a bit, or are just savvy, have prepared a fundraising guide to help volunteers overcome this hurdle. Have you?

I stumbled upon this PDF from an organization called Group Workcamps – they are mission focused, but if you take out the religious message this is an amazing set of fundraising ideas, have a read and you’ll see what I mean. Hopefully it’s useful to you and to your volunteers.

Group Workcamps Fundraising Guide

Slumdog Promotes Voluntourism in Orphanages: Good or Bad?

See below, a recent article came out in Travel News about a TV program on the slums of India that has increased the number of volunteers wanting to help in orphanages, is this good or bad? It’s probably good for volunteer companies and their bottom line and working with kids has always sold really well BUT is it in fact good for the kids?

We send volunteers to orphanages to paint rooms or play with kids or help ‘educate’ but really who is benefiting the most? The volunteer or the kids? Have there been any studies saying that placing strangers with orphans that only stay for one week help or hinder the abandonment issues that orphans anyway carry with them?

As all of this promotion and encouragement of volunteering with orphans continues I’d love to hear proof from someone that the kids are truly the ones benefiting. The orphanages I have talked to in country always tell me they think teh volunteers’ efforts hurt the kids but they need to smile and make nice with volunteer companies because they are reliant on the funds.

Let the debate begin!

Slumdog TV Promotes Voluntourism

British organisations which offer volunteering opportunities overseas have seen a marked increase in the number of people wishing to travel to India to work in orphanages. Travel industry leaders believe the rise in enquiries for this sort of overseas expedition is as a result of Channel 4’s recent India Winter season.

The series, which drew in record level audience figures, featured programmes including Slumming It, The Slumdog Children of Mumbai and the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. Spokesperson Marcus Watts, from the independent gap year association The Year Out Group, said he believes the rise in interest from people wanting to carry out voluntary work in India shows just how influential TV programming is. He said: “Channel 4’s India Winter season was something which has captured the minds of many people. Lots of viewers saw the way thousands of young children live on India’s streets and have felt inspired to do something to help them.

Volunteers working overseas really can make a small difference to the lives of kids who have been abandoned or orphaned.” Greenforce, which is a not for profit organisation, and a branch of Gapforce, sends a different group of British volunteers twice a month to India. The average trip ranges from two to five weeks. Volunteers range in age from 17 to 70. Upon arrival in India, Gapforce trains its volunteers to speak basic Hindi before allowing them to work in the orphanage. Volunteers can choose between working in a residential orphanage in Jaipur or assisting in a day centre for orphans and homeless children in Delhi.

Director of Operations Daniella Noykova, from Gapforce, who has herself volunteered in India, said: “Words cannot express how much these children enjoy meeting our volunteers. These orphanages are incredibly stretched when it comes to resourcing so having additional support is always welcome. “ The work which volunteers carry out in the orphanages is varied. It can range from helping building the children’s confidence and integrating them into the community, tutoring in home work, teaching vocational skills, organizing games and recreational activities and most importantly providing much needed individualised attention. For more information about Gapforce’s volunteering opportunities, visit http://www.gapforce.or