Responsible tourism, Voluntourism, Sustainable tourism…are different concepts with a common idea: the tourism activity in which the visitor brings positive impacts to the destination, either to alleviate poverty, to help in the development of the local economy, rebuilding areas affected by natural catastrophe, etc.
With regards to the kind of people interested in these types of tourism activities, they are not all moved by the same motivations and goals. The visitor travels either passively (holiday trip + sightseeing), actively (holiday trip + volunteering) or as a volunteer (volunteering trip).
Nowadays, Latin America and Asia are the continents offering most of these programs. There are both outbound and incoming travel agencies specialized in this type of tourism, and some tour operators have developed business units based on responsible tourism, whereas in Africa volunteering holiday programs are more popular than responsible tourism programs.
Also in Eastern Europe some countries are discovering in this type of tourism a new source of revenue for its poorest regions. Other Western countries such as the USA, Germany, France, Spain or Italy have also included strategies for the development of volunteering tourism products in their tourism development plans.
These type of holiday programs let the visitor truly discover the local culture, staying in local homes or accommodation facilities managed by locals, visiting the destination and cooperating in different social projects. Some examples may be:
- Helping in building homes for refugees or in the poorest areas of the destination
- Working as a teacher in primary schools or supporting in sport camps for children
- Cooperating with an NGO dealing with the victims of a natural catastrophe
- Participating in an ecotourism program where to work in the preservation of the environment
Some portals like Xmigrations.com work as a search engine for activities and accommodation where you may find nature, sport and spiritual activities in places where you can work in exchange for a free stay.