Voluntourism is a combination of volunteering and tourism, where well-meaning travellers participate in international projects mainly through volunteer travel companies and some charitable organisations.
Projects include teaching, sports, construction, conservation, childcare in orphanages, and even medical work. These excursions can cost thousands per week, and voluntourists are not required to have relevant skills or experience to work on these projects.
Research suggests the intentions of volunteers are to: make a positive change, gain a cultural experience, and learn to become good global citizens.
Whilst many volunteers have good intentions, these are not enough to create positive change, sustainable development, and responsible partnerships with international communities.
Voluntourism trips are sold as a 'do good feel good' experience that is primarily focused around the volunteer’s experience instead of the experience of the communities. Volunteering abroad is expensive (ironically) to participate in projects that are not necessarily needed in communities. Voluntourists also do not require the necessary skills or experience to work on projects.
The reality is volunteers are paying for an experience to donate resources to disadvantaged communities; play with vulnerable children in orphanages; and teach in schools whilst not having relevant experience or skills. These trips have minimal sustainable impact in working towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.
We are not anti-volunteering.
We believe volunteering should not be made into a business at the expense of exploiting disadvantaged communities.
We support and work towards the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals.
See below some examples of how voluntourism does not meet these goals.