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PARTNERS & SPECIAL THANKS Background Research | Voluntourism in Numbers

Voluntourism Industry Survey In May - June 2011, TIES and the Planeterra Foundation launched an industry survey to gather data on current issues, challenges, and opportunities in the field of voluntourism. Prior to creating the survey questions, an extensive literature review was conducted to learn more about the current challenges and ongoing work within the voluntourism field. The review included various publications, surveys, recent articles, and existing guidelines. The survey was distributed to members in the TIES database, members of the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA), and other professionals or organizations involved with voluntourism for which TIES had contact information. The industry sector categories used for the survey are: academic; tour operator; local NGO/project; international NGO; local business practitioner; international business practitioner; voluntourism provider; and local voluntourism partner organization. The results of the survey are published in the Voluntourism Guidelines Summary Report, compiled and edited by Independent Researcher, Ashley Armstrong (Planeterra Foundation), Megan Epler Wood (Planeterra Foundation) and Ayako Ezaki (TIES) with guidance from the Advisory Committee members.

The summary report is available for download at: voluntourism-research

Stakeholder Meetings In the 2011 Voluntourism Industry Survey, survey respondents emphasized the need for transparency, communication, and information within the field of voluntourism. In many cases, survey respondents noted that appropriate processes are largely dependent on the nature of the project. Thus, projects should be approached on an individual basis, while keeping in mind the importance of being transparent, encouraging open communication, and providing as much information as possible to all parties involved.

TIES and Planeterra Foundation hosted stakeholder meetings during the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (Sept. 2011) with facilitation by Dr. Kristin Lamoreaux, and the Adventure Travel World Summit (Oct. 2011) with facilitation by Dr. Kristin Lamoreaux and Alexia Nestora. Based on the data gathered through the Industry Survey and feedback received from the Advisory Committee, the Stakeholder Meetings focused on key issues related to the benefits and impacts of voluntourism programs, and best practices in marketing, communications and reporting by voluntourism providers.

Voluntourism Trends & Discussions In April 2012, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) undertook a survey of over 140 members, who are tour operators working in the adventure travel sector. According to ATTA’s report, 55% of those surveyed “currently run volunteer trips”; of the remaining 45%, over 41% of them are “considering [volunteer trips] for the future”. Reasons cited for this included “growing awareness and demand for ‘giving back’” as well as consumer trends towards local and sustainable initiatives. Source: results-are-in-atta-survey-on-voluntourism

In 2009, Community Marketing, Inc. launched the CMIGreen Traveler Study, designed to provide insights into the sustainable travel market. According to the study, 59.1% of those surveyed said they were interested in volunteering; 74.4% have volunteered while traveling; 37.6% said the availability of volunteer activity encouraged their selection of a destination; 69.9% said that the most important goal of a volunteer travel experience is to “give back.”; and 58% continued to be involved with the project they volunteered with after they returned home. Source:


International Voluntourism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators  

With the support of the Planeterra Foundation, the International Voluntorism Guidelines for Commercial Tour Operators has been produced by T...

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