Combining volunteering and tourism to have voluntourism gives a traveler to enjoy their holiday longer and make it more fruitful. Traditional tourism is where a tourist or a traveler goes to a beach, safari, and hotel. Volunteering abroad involves going to another country to help the local communities by working on worthwhile projects and programs. Volunteering abroad or voluntourism is new and exciting adventure that many people are getting to. Volunteering abroad is getting more popular with many travelers they are shifting from traditional tourism. As a result many organizations and companies are jumping into this new industry. The problems come in as the industry is not regulated as traditional tourism. There is no body that reviews the volunteer service organizations that provide the volunteer abroad programs. There are also no rules or guidelines that have been set to regulate the industry. Apart from lack of regulations there are other problems in the volunteering abroad industry:
Not for profit vs. For profit organization.
Not for profit and for profit organizations basically provide the same services. They both have local and grassroots organizations that they are supporting. They both provide the same programs i.e. volunteer abroad teaching, health work; orphanage work; community work and conservation projects. The problem comes in choosing which organization to use. There are some which are affordable while there are others which are expensive. Both types of organizations could charge as much as $ 4,000 and as low as $ 1,100 for a month. These prices make it difficult to decide which companies are in it for the money or for helping the societies. It also hard to find out which of these organizations help the local communities or they help themselves with the money you pay them.
Volunteer abroad programs
One of the main problems is matching the volunteer abroad program with the volunteer. There are volunteers who come back after their volunteer work and they are inspired and changed for life. But there are others who come back without any benefit. Time should be taken on both sides to find programs that they will benefit both parties the volunteer and the organization. The structure of the programs is important. The programs should be setup by the local organization and should be made in order to meet the goals of the society. The programs should be made to meet the needs of the society. Other problems with the programs are that they are not sustainable. In that they sometimes lack continuity in that the work started by one group of volunteer stops when they leave. The work stops because there is no one to continue. For example building projects could be stalled when the volunteers leave. Programs should be made in such a way that they are effective, and are sustainable with or without volunteers.
Another issue to be addressed is that are international volunteers taking jobs away from the local people. The work the volunteer does can usually be done by a local individual faster and cheaper. Many local organizations look for international volunteers to fill up staff positions in order not to pay them. They have the capacity to hire local people but they choose to take volunteers. This reduces the effectiveness of the volunteer work and deprives the local job market.
The international volunteers many times do not know what they are getting into. They are not properly prepared by the volunteer service organization on what to expect when they volunteer abroad. When they arrive at the project location they are shocked and disappointed at the conditions. As they are not properly informed on the situation on the ground they don’t know whether to accept things or complain to someone. Before they get into a contract with the organizations volunteers should know what they are getting into and be fully informed.