Volunteer tourism has been increasing in the recent past and many individual are opting to engaging in this from of tourism and many of these individuals are motivated bay various factors including altruistic benefits and deriving a unique satisfying experience coupe with new skill as well as benefiting the host communities in one way or the other. Volunteer tourism is vied as an alterative of tourism that provides a more reciprocal from of travel that ensures that both the volunteers as well as the host communities benefit from the experience. This research intend to show that participating in volunteer tourism is as result of various motivating factors that are specific to a group of individuals which are directed towards gaining of experiences both on culture of the host communities and the environment.
This reach paper also targets at gaining a deeper understanding on the benefits that volunteer tourism yield to the stakeholders that are involved in the activities of voluntourism while at same time trying to know whether the activity is a sustainable form of tourism or not. The study will use questionnaires, interviews and secondary sources in gathering the required information for the study. The data obtained will then be analyzed using logical regression and statistical package for social studies. The results will be presented using tables, figures and graphs.
Volunteer tourism is becoming an increasingly popular activity involving combination of travel with voluntary work. The activity attracts individuals who seek a tourist experience which is mutually beneficial contributing not only to personal development but also contribute directly and positively to the social, natural and economic environments they participate in. therefore volunteer tourism is viewed to provide a more reciprocally beneficial form of traveling that ensures that both the volunteer and the host community gains from the experience.
It could be easily assumed that the increasing popularity of the volunteer tourism may represent a shift towards a more responsible form of tourism as well a reflection of an increasing from of global citizenry and according to Wearing (2004) volunteer tourism can be seen as the best practice in tourism a sits sustainable and focuses on tourist contribution to the host communities. It potentially helps bring funding and enthusiastic labor and ideas as well as skills to important projects in the host communities. Therefore volunteer tourism leads to improved cross cultural understanding, increased environmental awareness and improved mutual understanding while giving the tourist an opportunity to have an authentic experience of the host communities thus gaining valuable skills and development their sense of self improving the future employment prospects.
However on the other hand there has been growing concerns both in the academia and the media concerning the negative impacts on the stakeholders involved in volunteer tourism is such activity is not carefully developed, planned and managed. Benefits are derived from carefully developed, planned and managed programs without which a questionable abilities of such activities to genuinely contributing to the volunteers and the host communities. Most efforts have been targeted at promoting benefits for the volunteer but little has been done to enhancing benefits to the host communities hence resulting to highlighted problems surrounding volunteer tourism.
This research paper will therefore conduct a research to identify various factors that motivate individual to participating in volunteer tourism. In addition to that the study will also identify various benefits that the host communities gain from engaging in volunteer tourism and finally identify factors that can be used to determine whether the activity is sustainable firm of tourism or not. Therefore this study is intended in yielding an in-depth analysis on the motivators of volunteer tourism, benefit sot the host community and finally on its sustainability.
This research paper will be expected to give detailed answers regarding the motivating factors that encourages volunteer tourist to take part in volunteer tourism, the benefits that the host communities of volunteer tourism get from the activity and finally if the activities carried out by volunteer tourism are sustainable in nature. The research questions are:
What are the motivating factors that make volunteer tourists to get engaged in volunteer tourism?
What the main benefits that the host communities derive from the activities resulting from volunteer tourism?
Is volunteer tourism sustainable?
Statement of the Hypothesis
The hypotheses of the research are:
Ho: Specific factors motivate individuals to engage in voluntourism.
Ho: Volunteer tourism benefits the host communities.
Ho: Voluntourism is sustainable form of tourism.
Volunteer tourism is a form of travel that includes volunteering of both time and effort that is directed for a charitable cause. According to Kristen Lamoureux it's often a good way for promoting intercultural communication as a result of its direct interaction between the tourists and the local community. In volunteer tourism volunteer for redevelopment projects that helps improve the lives of other people everywhere and the voluntary activities range from helping patients in hospitals to teaching music (Brown & Lehto, 2005).
This phenomenon of tourism has been growing rapidly and people are becoming more involved in developing countries where they spend most of their vacations in making some significant contributions to the disadvantaged people in the society. This has given birth to volunteer tourism in which tourists according to Voluntism.org have the intention of having a holistic experience that incorporates voluntary service i.e. giving back to the tourist destinations well as its residents in some way and the traditional elements of tourism and travel.
Volunteer tourism is also termed as voluntourism and according to studies is growing rapidly. Most proponents of this kind of tourism argue that any person from any walks of life can literary be involved in volunteer tourism and that more than fifty five million Americans have participated in volunteer tourism at some level I their lives. According to Travel Association of America sturdy carried out in 2007 proves such figures to be astounding as it found out that when over hundred million more people said that they would be interested in engaging in such kind of tourism activity and the majority were interested in volunteering and traveling (Daniels, Bowen, & Norman, 2008).
There are several reasons or motivations that research as yielded concerning why people engage in volunteer tourism. According to Wearing (2001) there are several reasons that are often widely cited as motivations for volunteer based travel and the include altruism, travel and adventure, personal growth, cultural exchange and learning, professional development, right time and place and finally the individual programming. In addition to tat the travel industry association of America (2007) also found and array of reasons why individuals participate in volunteerism but the mostly frequently cited motivator cited around a desire to 'doing something good'. Brown and Lehto (2005) argue that the altruistic picture of the volunteer tourism is amore complicated process which is often mediated by marketing messages (The Voluntourism Forum, 2007).
According to their research they identify two types of volunteer tourists which include the 'volunteer minded' tourists and the 'vacation minded' tourists. The category of volunteer tourists falling under the 'volunteer minded, tourist usually seeks out opportunities that tend to support their altruistic tendencies while those travelers who fall under the second category of 'vacation minded' tourists chose their volunteering locations basing on advertising as well as promotional materials (Simpson, 2005). The two mindsets of volunteerism must be kept in mind any researcher as the motives, values as well as decisions making approaches of each category. In addition to that brow and Lehto also recommend stat more substantial research is needed to be conducted in the stated area especially in trying to understanding the dimensions of motivations as well as the benefiting factors of the volunteer tourism and the interplay of mass tourism motives and the volunteer motives (Bowen, 2008).
Most of the recent trends indicates that there has been an emergence of a more conscious category of tourists who cab be best described as having consideration when it comes to environmental issues especially when making travel related decisions. Most of the conscious tourists seek experiences with lesser environmental impact and opportunities to contribute work as well s time to environmental efforts. Volunteer tourism as I the recent academic literature been identified as distinct castor of tourism that has experienced a rapid growth with a total of 1.6 million volunteer tourists contributing to 1.6 to 2.6 billion dollars (Simpson, 2007). The rapid growth in the sector of volunteer tourism has made it a focus for most research programs in the recent past.
Volunteer tourists are mainly motivated by the altruistic element but generally tourist satisfaction depends on the presence of the following elements: having fun, experiencing new things, the opportunity for knowledge /skill and contributing to worthwhile projects. In the past it has been realized that the activities of volunteer tourists have a considerable impacts on the tourist destinations not only in terms of the fees paid but also considering the fact that most tourists spend much of their time and large amounts of money in funding of their total travel plans (Wearing, 2004).
According to voluntourism .org the volunteer tourism seeks efforts in providing resources that are often directed towards the community as well as the needs that are identified as significant for development and includes ideas, values as well as aspirations intended to main the world a better place. Therefore such form of tourism concerns itself with suing the tourism activities in supporting and enhancing the local community (Wearing, 2001). Volunteer tourism ahs been identified to provide several benefits to the tourist destination and some of these benefits include the following: first is the enabling and exploration of ways that promote sustainability of tourism while eliminating the negative consequences.
Another benefit is the alignment of its activities with the wide range of values and behaviours as compared to mainstream tourism hence can be seen as an approach to tourism that move beyond the mainstream type and deeper into ideas that supports general volunteering and engages in projects that serve to benefiting the host community as well as the global community (Zahra, & McIntosh, 2006).
Finally volunteer tourism as been found to helping in enhancing the supportive aspects of volunteer tourism while alleviating the negative ones especially through careful analysis, organizational planning which is usually based upon the unique local communities which vary with different host communities and tourist destinations.
On the other hand there are some emerging ethical concerns as it regard to impacts of volunteer tourism on the tourist destinations. Some groups suggest that the activity can result to more harm than good especially when one considers the ways in which volunteer work can be misdirected and organized more to benefits the untrained travelers rather the recipients of the efforts (Jacobsen, 2000). Therefore the recommendations of careful and elaborate management regarding development, planning and evaluation of volunteer programs such that sustainable from of volunteer tourism is promoted that is able to simultaneously met the needs of the volunteer tourist, the host communities as well as the volunteer tourist organizations and agencies.
Methods and Methodology
The research will be basically seeking answers that answer the question on the motivating factors that encourages various individuals to take part in the volunteer tourism or travel. The study will try to find out what really motivates the voluntourism in various tourist destinations. In addition to that it will also try to establish whether the activities of voluntourism benefit those who take part in it or not (Wearing, 2001). Finally it also tries to come up with conclusion regarding the sustainability of the voluntourism in the tourist destinations.
The research will employ various methods of data collection that are expected to yield the necessary data that will enable a successful research process. The methods to be used in the research will be selected based on the nature of the study to be conducted.
The study will incorporate two main methodologies of research i.e. the qualitative research methodology as well as the quantitative methodology that will adopt a number of data collection techniques intended to ensure that the required data and information is captured well. The data obtained should be able to be used in a successful making of reliable inferences, recommendations and conclusions from the research. The data obtained and analyzed from the research will then be presented using tables, charts as well as graphs. The analysis of the data will be done using the non parametric statistics.
The design of the research will involve a study based on the use of both the qualitative and the quantitative research approaches which according to Yu & Cooper, (1983) will enable the research to be broader in nature of coverage thus ensuring that all the requirements of the research topic are covered comprehensibly. The design to be used in the study is the controlled randomized design that will ensure that specific interviewees from different tourist destinations are studied and that diversified information regarding the motivators of the voluntourism for the tourists and if the host communities benefits from the activity is obtained. This design is the best one because if well executed it will be capable of yielding a great deal of data that is required in making the research successful in addressing all the research questions and the accurate testing of the research hypotheses.
The population to be studied during the research includes voluntourists in the host communities as well as the community members residing in areas experiencing services offered by the voluntourists. The population of interest is the tourists that are currently involved in voluntourism and civic leaders of the host community who can be trusted to give reliable information regarding the impacts of the voluntourism in their respective communities.
Sampling strategies that will be used to obtain the sample population includes the following: random sampling stratified random sampling and careful biased sampling. Use of random sampling strategy ensures that a group of the entire population of people engaged in voluntourism is selected as representative the entire population in the research study that is being conducted.
Careful biased sampling will also be used to ensure that specific individuals especially active voluntourists and civic leaders who have been in office for more than a year are identified to help provide certain information that cannot be adequately provided by rest member of the host community. Stratified random sampling will be used to subdivide or distinguish between individuals who have either directly or indirectly been involved in voluntourism.