Travel makes one modest. You see what tine place you occupy in the world. Gustave Flaubert
You have possibly already planned your next holiday, or you are thinking about it. But do you know that there are also possibilities to add more meaning to your holiday and to experience a new culture in depth? No? Well then this blog can be interesting for you! In this blog two types of tourism that are easy to combine within your holiday will be discussed. Namely, volunteer tourism and Community Based Tourism.
You probably have heard about volunteer tourism. But when I told my family and friends that I was going to do a specialization for my study in community based tourism they did not know about it. So this blog will inform you about both types of tourism. After reading, you can decide which one suits you.
What are we talking about?
Community Based Tourism hereinafter CBT, means that a local community is welcoming tourists to provide them a cultural experience in a local community. The tourists have the opportunity to stay a night in a local home also known as the homestay and they will participate in daily activities. In addition, information about the different cultures is shared. So CBT is a great way to experience a new culture by gaining an insight in their daily lives.
When participating in CBT you will stay in a homestay. This is a private accommodation of a local family. This family opens up their house for tourists and invite them to stay a night at their house. Information is shared by both cultures and this will increase the interaction. You learn more about the culture and return home with a great memory. You might think “is this beneficial for the community?” Yes it is, beneficial for them.
Volunteer tourism might be more known among the society, as most people might know someone who is a volunteer at their home country or knows someone who went abroad to do volunteer work.
Volunteer tourism started as an alternative to mass tourism back in the 20th century and is now identified as a niche of tourism. It takes often place in undeveloped countries. Examples of volunteer projects are teaching, working on the land, building facilities and provide health services. There are many organizations offering volunteer holidays of different durations and projects. In this case we talk about volunteers going abroad. In most cases volunteers travel in an organized.
You know why CBT tourism brings benefits to the community? Well first of all the tourists provide income to the community, this is an additional income to the regular income of the community. An example of this is a family in the Baanrinklong community. The main income for this family is their ecological garden in which no chemicals are used. Their additional income is gained by offering a homestay experience. The money gained by the family is used for basic supplies such as food and clothes. The collective money gained by the community can be used for improvement of the infrastructure, and improve the quality of life and welfare of the community members. As CBT creates an additional income, the community is still able to support themselves when less tourists come. Therefore, they do not become dependable upon tourism. However, it is not excluded that this can happen.
Volunteer tourism has also positive impacts on the local community. A volunteer brings economic benefits to the destination as they might also travel to other places within the area. Another good impact, is that the local people can be educated and increase their skills with the help of volunteers. As the volunteers bring “new” knowledge to the destination. Also the development of the area is supported which is positive for the quality of life.
Both types create benefits for the community. It also increases awareness among the tourists about the importance of preserving the natural resources and to gain a better understanding about the culture. Within CBT tourism helps the community to remain proud on their culture and to protect their traditions.
In the case of CBT there are not many negative impacts that can be identified, as most communities do not identify major negative impacts. Examples of impacts caused by CBT are littering done by the tourists, loss of culture and pressure on natural resources.
In regard to volunteer tourism there are more negative impacts identified. You might take the opportunity to give English lessons on a school for two weeks. This sounds as a great way to help the kids’ right? However, this act of helping has side effects. First it is reducing the employment of that area as the teaching job is taken by the volunteers. Moreover, a short stay of only two weeks is affecting the children of the school as they get attached to the volunteers who leave after two weeks. This causes that the children can become afraid for commitment.
Another example that can be related to this is the upcoming orphanage business. tourist visit an orphanage for one or more days and they are allowed to work with the children. Despite the fact that they are not skilled and causing attachment issues by the children. In Ghana the government found out that over 80% of the estimated 4.500 children in orphanages still had one parent.
Another impact is related to the time period of the volunteer project. The success of a project is dependable on the match between the skills of the volunteer and the project. When there is a suitable match it indicates that the volunteer is able to deliver proper work as he or she is skilled in it. This can also be succesful within a short time period as quality is delivered. When there is an incorrect match problems can arise as the quality of the work is affected and the volunteer might cause more harm than good. This can occur in both short and long term projects. The situation with an incorrect match can occur when the organization is mostly focused on making profit rather than focusing on delivering quality work.
It can also happen that the volunteering area becomes dependent upon the economic and social benefits received from volunteer tourism. This makes them vulnerable when the volunteer activities are withdrawn. Another negative impact of volunteer tourism is the fact that the volunteers make use of the local resources. These resources may come under pressure as the destination is under developed and might not have that many resources to equally support the local community and the extra volunteers.
The negative impacts of volunteer tourism can be related to two types of volunteer tourists. There is the volunteer minded tourist who is motivated to do the best for the community and offer many effort. And there is the holiday minded tourist this person is more focused on the holiday related to the volunteer work and they often cause more harm than good for the community. Another impact of the holiday minded person is that he or she might not have the right skills to carry out the volunteer work.
Most CBT tourists are middle aged and combine a CBT trip within their main holiday. Moreover, their main motivation to visit a community is the desire to experience something unique and to have interaction with local people to discover more about the culture.
It was revealed that in most cases the motivation of the volunteers revolves around the “self”, so very individualistic. Connected to this is the motivation of wanting to travel, and to see and experience new and fun situations. The destination of volunteering is also selected based on the preferences of the country the volunteer wants to visit. The average age of participants in volunteer tourism is ranging from student ages 18 to 25 years and middle age participants around the age of 35.
This indicates that there is quite some difference between the motivations for both types of tourism.
CBT is a type of tourism that is relatively easy to add to your holiday plan if you travel to a destination with CBT communities. One of those destinations is Thailand.
Here in Thailand, CBT and homestays are both well- known concepts and tourists have a broad choice in choosing a community to stay with as there are around 50 homestays available in Thailand. These can differ in duration and activities, as no community is the same and there are different duration periods available for tourists.
There is the chance to do either only a day trip to a community, to stay 2 days and one night or to stay 3 days and 2 nights or longer. In most cases tourists come for one day or two days and 1 night. Moreover, tour operators provide a code of conduct to inform the tourists about the level of culture shock and cultural diversity. In order, to prepare the tourists in the best way possible on their stay within a community.
Both types of tourism have their negative and positive impacts. Based on the above the homestay provides benefits to the community and at the same time the negative impacts are limited. Whereas for volunteer tourism the impacts are depending on the type of tourist participating as there are volunteer minded and holiday minded people joining the program.
On CBT the impact can be identified as limited due to the fact, that tourist often stay for a short time period. However, for volunteer tourism the impacts can be higher as the tourists stays at least for a minimum of one week. The advantage of volunteer tourism is that the destination gains economic benefit and the local people improve their skills due to the education received from the volunteers.
You can pick one of these types to make your holiday a memory for live. Volunteer tourism can have negative impacts. But if you consider wisely what your skills are and what you can mean for the community you can have a positive influence on the community. It is also wise to choose a transparent organization as they will show you how the money is spent.
With CBT the money you spent for your stay is going to the community and the local families. Both types offer you the opportunity to learn more about the culture and interact with the people by participating in activities and staying in a local home.
If you can identify yourself as a holiday minded tourist CBT can be a good solution as you can easily combine it with your holiday and you can experience a new culture. If you are more motivated to really help a community and travelling is less important than volunteer tourism is a good opportunity for you.
However, you should consider wisely in what kind of project you want to participate, the duration and the organization in order to have a meaningful contribution to the community.
Whatever your choice may be, choose carefully and consider your contribution to the community.
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. Unknown
Total word count (excl. references) : 1865
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