Volunteer Tourism: Unearthing the Geography of Exploration
Volunteer tourism also referred to as ‘voluntourism’, ‘volunteerism’, and ‘volunteer travel’ is one amongst the varied forms of sustainable tourism forms that have been developed in the last few decades. Volunteer tourism aims at providing a level playground for people to meet the needs of a particular market and, at the same time, encourages people to travel with a cause. It places a responsibility on the shoulders of the traveler to use their time and energy effectively to plan a trip for meeting environmental or humanitarian need. While it aims at helping poor people, and conservation of nature and animals, it is crucial to understand that volunteer tourism is not synonymous with charity. The real motive behind volunteer tourism is to eliminate the very causes that lead to social and environmental suffering. While mainstream tourism promises to open new avenues for one to explore and wander, volunteer tourism urges one to individually and collectively undertake exploration in a way that can bring a change in lives of the needed.
Being a tourist opens one to a variety of different types of volunteer tourism, such as animal conservation, village tourism, environmental tourism, community welfare, teaching, research, and many more. Volunteer tourism aimed at animal conservation is planned by animal lovers and places the act of responsibility on the traveler to educate oneself and people about endangered animals. Similarly, volunteer tourisms at National parks and conservation sites propagate the ideals of 3Rs and educate people to reuse, reduce, and recycle while traveling. Such programs are not restrained to fauna and flora conservation but encourage social, economic, and ethical sensitivity amongst people. Volunteering as teachers for children in villages and researches around village tourism are also popular activities for volunteer tourists.
However, choosing to be in the field of volunteer tourism is a responsible task. As a volunteer tourist, one is presented with a plethora of destinations to choose from. Thus, sound background knowledge of the geography and the cultural backdrop of the place is a prerequisite to prepare oneself for possible hurdles. Therefore, as an act of philanthropy, community service, or developing an educational approach towards studying a community, volunteer tourism emerges as an unexplored arena that awaits dedicated and passionate minds.