Tourism Meets Volunteering

Solidarity tourism is a new and budding trend in tourism, volunteering and travel.  A growing number of travelers are realizing the impact that tourism has on a region or country. Besides positive economic effects, there are possible negative effects in terms of wasted resources (like water at resorts), carbon emissions from modes of travel and degradation of natural areas like coral reefs due to snorkelers, among other things.  Solidarity tourism gives both the traveler and host community a chance to make things better rather than worse.

International Volunteers

The focus of solidarity tourism to the benefit everyone – gather volunteers and local people for a common goal and boost the development of an area, community and economy.  Also known as volunteer tourism or community based tourism, solidarity tourism requires two willing and active participants. The first is the traveler with a giving heart and a genuine desire to be a part of the culture and community, from helping in projects to eating local food and participating in neighborhood events such as church services or festivals.

The second is a community-based tourism planner and coordinating activity. Solidarity tourism works best when the local population controls the activities. This can be how visitors are received through establishment of an itinerary to what to do with the funds generated.  Properly executed, such tourism combined with volunteering offers people from other parts of the world tourist experiences adapted to local realities, in which they experience the culture, the human exchange and a respect for the environment.

Solidarity tourism is a great way to learn something new and give back at the same time. The emotional and mental development that comes with such an experience will pay off. You can be proud of helping others, having an open mind and doing something few others ever do. Hopefully you will be part of a growing movement to improve the world. At the very least, solidarity tourism is a great way to experience something new and do the greatest amount of good while causing the least amount of harm.

Where to start:

Still a student? Check out Global Brigades Global Brigades

Only got a few weeks? Check out Project Abroad Project Abroad

Ready to commit for a year? Check out United Planet united_planet

 NB: The organizations mentioned above have dozens of projects  which allows you to go pretty much anywhere around the world which is great but it is also a good idea to check out smaller associations that tend to be more “boots on the ground”. 
 
Post by Nathalie Baudet
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