‘Voluntourism’: Working and volunteering on your holiday

What is voluntourism?

Put together volunteering and tourism and you get voluntourism- a form travel in which you participate in voluntary, charitable work.

But is it for selfless humanitarian reasons, or for selfish job opportunities?

Job opportunities 

Companies that offer travel and job prospects is Global Work and Travel,  STA Travel, Work and Travel AUS, and Gap360.

You pay for the trip and get a holiday and an interview at your destination included (not guaranteed).

Humanitarian work

Travelling for humanitarian aid is the aspect of voluntourism that is most criticized. While you may think you are travelling for all the good reasons you may be a part of a bigger problem, which is both colonialism and stripping away jobs for locals (remember that for you to come in and be willing to work for free takes away the opportunity for locals to get a job).

But is it new colonialism?

Is volunteering overseas becoming the new colonialism? That’s the question that is being asked by some media reports in the UK suggesting that “the positive aspects of volunteer travel are hindered when a group of travellers believes it’s their responsibility to fix the lives and communities of another.”

That although there is good intentions, the volunteers don’t know the culture, language, protocols, past and present leadership of the country, or what has been attempted before.

Volunteers come in with a sense of responsibility, that if they don’t do this, then nobody will. Which is just not the case.

An excerpt from the article by ABC Australia back in March details this issue in one paragraph:

“‘It’s done for the experience of the volunteer’, says Roger O’Halloran, the executive director of PALMS, an NGO that was born out of the Catholic social movement of lay missionaries. ‘It’s all about the volunteer, with the pretence of helping someone, and I don’t buy it.’

The organisation sends its volunteers overseas for two years at a time. O’Halloran worries about companies that send people away for short periods of time (often a couple of weeks or even days) to build, say, a mud hut. Many of the young volunteers would be going without building skills, which poses the question of whether someone in that local community could do a better job.”

It is food for thought to society in a major way. I hope this opens your eyes in the way that you think critically about the things you’re signing up for when travelling. To make a good and effective change in the world we must look at all the things that came before and rule out the things that just aren’t working.

In my opinion, voluntourism just isn’t.

Other articles for a good read into the possible narcissism in volunteering overseas:

  1. The Problem with Little White Girls, Boys, and Voluntourism 
  2. Instagramming Africa: The Narcissism of Global Voluntourism 
  3. Beware the voluntourists intent on doing good 
  4. Gap years: Voluntourism -who are you helping? 

Much nerd,

Ninka xx


What travellers to Australia spend on tourism products

Understanding the consumer market is vital to the tourism industry for marketing and advertising reasons.

This blog post is dedicated entirely to the analysis of Australia’s inbound and outbound markets to help you learn about different protocols and cultures’ preferences.

Consumer markets

  • Under ‘Understanding the Japanese consumer’ what Japanese tourists are most drawn to when making a decision on where to travel is places where there’s good food, wine, local cuisine and produce with 39% of tourists who have previously visited Australia associating the country with that element. Popular attractions to visit are natural landmarks/ heritage sites.
  • Under ‘Understanding the New Zealand consumer’, 50% of New Zealand consumers suggested they travel to Australia to participate  in a ‘nature’ based activities such as campervaning, camping, observing wildlife, natural wonders, etc.
  • According to the UK Market Profile 2014, the UK was Australia’s third largest inbound market for visitor arrivals, and the second largest market for total expenditure and visitor nights. More and more tourists form the UK are coming to visit friends and relatives than to have a holiday (Graph 1). This could be reflected in that tourists form the UK find the weaknesses of Australian tourism is that there is no value for money (Graph 2) They much prefer the coastal scenery and natural environments.

Graph 1:

graph 3

Graph 2:

graph 4

Preferences for tourism products

Findings based on the Travel by Australians: December 2013 quarterly results of the National Visitor Survey shows that:

  • 47% of Australian travel for the reason of a holiday. The survey shows that in the year ending 2013 Australians spent $51.1 billion traveling domestic overnight trips.
  • Australians travel domestic more than international with 197 million domestic trips compared to 7.6 million outbound trips by Australians.
  • The majority of areas travelled to and nights spent was NSW (85.5million) and QLD (73.8 million).

graph for shopping

Top 5 Markets 

According to the International Visitors in Australia: March 2014 quarterly results of the International Visitor Survey, the 45% of international tourists travel to Australia for leisure purposes.

The top 5 markets are China, UK, USA, New Zealand, and Japan, respectively.

China visitors are Australia’s main international tourist market. The number of visits to Australia increased 14% with 697,000 and the trip expenditure increased 15% with $5.1billion.

According to this report Chinese tourists spend money of their travel money on shopping as seen below on this chart.

graph shopping

USA tourists were surveyed at preferring the following tourism products:

  • Group tour visitor numbers increased 7% to 511,000
  • The number of travelers who visited state or national parks increased 8% to 2.5 million
  • Visitors who participated in whale or dolphin watching increased 9% to 524,000,
  • Visitors who visited wildlife parks, zoos or aquariums increased 7% to 2 million
  • The number of visitors travelling as part of a family group increased 16% to 699,000
  • Over half of visitors (54%) travelled unaccompanied.

Hope this post gives an insight into how consumer markets function in the Australian Tourism Industry.

For more information visit the Tourism Australia website.

Much nerd,

Ninka xx