As a tourist you can have tremendous impact on the places and people at your destination, especially if traveling to less developed locations. Your travel dollars can provide benefits to local communities in the form of employment, education and health care, but be aware that there can be unanticipated and detrimental side effects, so practice responsible tourism.

environmental voluntourism flickr responsible voluntourism

Voluntourism, is one of the best expressions of responsible tourism offering opportunities to deliver economic, social and environmental improvements to the communities you are visiting. But how to choose from the hundreds of programs that are now available?

Ken Budd offers suggestions in his book The Voluntourist that describes his life-changing experiences volunteering in six foreign countries.

“In my own case, I met extraordinary local people who were doing outstanding yet unsung work in their communities,” Budd said. “People learn about other people, Palestinians learn about Americans, Americans learn about Kenyans, Kenyans learn about Germans, and stereotypes disappear.”

 

Get It Right!

With voluntourism it is important to get it right, having the intention to give more than you get back. This is doubly true if your travel involves a diving or marine experience taking you to less developed island destinations. See our Blue Ocean posts: Activating Voluntourism in the Dive Industry.

 

Find What Fits For You and Your Destination!

Here are some important links offering tips and guidelines for determining what works best for you and for practicing voluntourism appropriately:

Traditional Tourism vs. Volunteer Tourism
The Preparation Guide to Volunteering Abroad
How to Find Responsible Marine Biology Volunteer Opportunities
Calling All Gen X: Volunteering Abroad for Adults

By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network

 

Plus, see these Related Blue Ocean Articles:

Voluntourism alive and well and happening in Vanuatu.
Sustainable & Responsible Tourism on Curaçao
Summit 2015: Engaging Guests in Citizen Science and Sustainable Business Operations.
Local Response to Cruise-Ship Devastation – Lois Hatcher
Coral Gardening: Viability and Necessity!
DAN Announces 2018 Dive Medicine Research Grant

 

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