Voluntourism: good or bad?

The industry for combining volunteering with travel (or ‘voluntourism’) is booming. But the sector is also controversial, accused of irresponsibility promoting the idea that tourists can make a real difference to development by spending a few weeks of their time at a project.

Pro voluntourism

  • no one else is there 'to make a difference'
  • volunteers stimulate local income by spending their money in local communities, hostels, restaurants, tour companies etc.
  • volunteers return from their trip to 'spread the word'
  • by voluntourism (young) people develop global and intercultural competencies, to be used at (future) jobs in socially involved companies

Against voluntourism

  • volunteers do the work that other local people can and/or should do
  • voluntourism hinders (local) government to facilitate real development programs
  • volunteers have little or no experience in the work they are carrying out
  • volunteers should donate their money into projects, instead of spending their money on flights, insurances and hotels

Share your thoughts

  • what is your idea on voluntourism? Do you have other "pro's" or "con's"?
  • in what way(s) should voluntourism be organized to have a positive effect on local communities?
  • is it achievable at all to stop young people travelling around the world to help out other (young) people?
  • what are ethical considerations a volunteer should be aware of when choosing to go on a volunteer trip?
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