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Airdate: Nov 29, 2017
Scientist: Nancy McGehee

Volunteer Tourism

Volunteer Tourism
It's an important economic and cultural resource in many countries.

Volunteer Tourism

Ambience: Risham Firiri, Nepalese Folksong

A group of volunteers singing around a campfire in the mountains of Nepal. Volunteer tourism is becoming an important economic and cultural resource in many countries around the world. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

McGehee : Volunteer tourism, from the perspective of the volunteer, is when a person uses discretionary time and income to participate in service in different places from their home.

Nancy McGehee is a Professor and Department Head of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Virginia Tech.

McGehee: The community thinks in terms of an opportunity to have both cultural exchange, economic, and environmental opportunities with people traveling into the community in a way that's slightly different from mainstream tourism.
I think it's important because just like any example of travel or exchange, we're looking at an opportunity for people with very different backgrounds, people with very different experiences to interact together. I think, at first blush, we think of volunteer tourism as something that benefits the host community. And then, you dig a little deeper, and you say, "Well, maybe they do, and maybe they don't," but it certainly seems that volunteers benefit. The thousands of volunteers that I've interviewed and talked to through the years, across the board, feel like they benefited from this experience,. Volunteers who return home are often transformed. They think of the world differently. They recognize what it is they do at home impacts people halfway around the world. I think volunteer tourism, in general is shifting away from this one-way experience to a two-way experience and recognizing the value of that.

We'll hear more about volunteer tourism in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.