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Voluntourism – Is This Really The Best Way To Help?

Voluntourism – Is This Really The Best Way To Help?

You want to help. You like to travel. You would love to combine the two.

Voluntourism (a term used that combines volunteering and tourism) may be just what you’re looking for.

But is it really?

An article published by Reuters stated that volutourism is experiencing a drastic increase in demand.

They shared that “as many as 10 million volunteers a year are spending up to $2 billion on the opportunity to travel with a purpose”.

This means that there are many, many well intentioned travellers and a great deal of money changing hands in this growing industry.

As a result of this demand and the amount of money now involved, more companies and organizations are entering this industry and providing services to support these types of travel experiences.

Normally you would think that helping people while experiencing a unique travel experience would be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

But unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case.

A significant challenge in this industry is that there are no voluntourism industry regulators to ensure that the organizations involved are actually providing help to the communities that they claim to be supporting.

What is even more concerning about this industry are some reports that the individuals who are volunteering may actually be harming the communities they are actually trying to help.

Taking jobs away from locals, volunteers doing work that they are not qualified for, and organizations that are capitalizing on poorer country’s communities are just some of the criticisms of this industry.

In another published article on voluntourism, it was suggested that if you really want to help, unless you have a very specific skill that is required (for example if you are a health professional) that there may be a better way for you to do this. They suggest;


Donate your money to a reputable non profit organization that is operating in the area that you would like to help. The organization should have intimate knowledge of what the area and communities require and can ensure that they can get the necessary skills and resources to do the work that the area really needs to progress.

Travel As A Tourist

If you are interested in experiencing another part of the world, travel to that place as a tourist. The money that you spend could help support the growth of that country’s economy and help grow their travel industry.

Volunteer At Home

If you really want to volunteer and help, why not support an organization at home. There are so many organizations that are needing help. Plus you could dedicate your time to something on a longer term basis.

Giving your time and energy to another person who needs help is an extremely generous gesture. You just want to make sure that your gift is truly needed, wanted and appreciated.

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