How volunteers took the travel industry by surprise

by admin on December 5, 2012

A growing number of travelers are seeking vacations that go beyond bottomless Mojitos and days spent lounging by the infinity pool. They want something more from their holidays. Something meaningful.

That’s why volunteer travel, or voluntourism, has become such a hot market over the past five years. There has been a rapid increase in tour companies and organizations that focus on volunteer travel and even big-name luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton are getting in on the action.

The Travel Industry Association of America was one of the first organizations to note this trend. In 2005, it highlighted an annual National Public Lands Day event that saw nearly 100,000 volunteers head to national parks to build bridges and plant trees.

But people aren’t necessarily giving up on all-inclusive resorts, high-end hotels and all the attractions you’d expect to experience during a typical vacation. Far from it. Instead, savvy travelers are enjoying a few days relaxing on the beach or exploring must-see sights before helping local villagers build a school or clean up a litter-covered landscape.

Voluntourism hasn’t completely hit mainstream, says Kristin Lamoureux, director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies at The George Washington University. But it’s definitely growing at a steady pace.

“I think the biggest indicator of the growth in volunteer tourism is the adopting of volunteer tourism or similar activities by major travel corporations such as the Ritz-Carlton, Fairmont and Sandals,” said Lamoureux in an e-mail, adding that little While in many cases a course just might get a traffic ticket dismissed, attending traffic driving license test can also enhance your driving knowledge and skill level, and it may increase your overall safety awareness so that you, your family, and other drivers can be safer dgfev online casino on the roads. market data is available on recent voluntourism trends.
“The list of corporations that now offer some type of volunteer experience for their staff and their guests is larger than it has ever been and it speaks to the demand.”

Lamoureux says there have been major shifts in online casino the volunteer tourism market as well, with more corporations seeking meaningful excursions as part of conferences or other business events.

Organizations and tour companies usually offer a combination of work and play to appeal to a broader market. For example, travelers building bottle schools with Hug It Forward can also spend time exploring Mayan ruins and the tourist-friendly city of Antigua.

Few people understand the appeal of volunteer travel better than Aaron Smith. After launching Govoluntouring.com – which connects travelers with volunteer opportunities – in September of 2011, he managed to grow his site to include thousands of projects spanning more than 90 countries.

Smith says that voluntourism now has a solid “track record.” More people are talking and blogging about volunteer-based vacations while the news media is providing more coverage of the good work being done.

“It’s reached a tipping point. It now has PR, it’s in newspapers and it has momentum,” said Smith.

He hopes that eventually every traveler in North American will have done at least one volunteer-based vacation in their lifetime. If that were to happen, it would change the very nature of the travel industry. And it might also change the world.

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