Evaluating volunteer tourism: has it made a difference?

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Journal Article
Tourism Recreation Research, 2017, 42 (4), pp. 512 - 521
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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper examines the challenges of evaluating volunteer tourism and looks towards possibilities for rethinking the ways in which the phenomenon is conceptualised. We reflect on the debates and practices that have emerged since the first theoretical exploration introduced over 15 years ago in a book titled Volunteer tourism: Experiences that make a difference. This review paper commences with a discussion of the criticisms that have been targeted at both research and practice, and reflects on the need to rethink how volunteer tourism is evaluated. We argue that the volunteer tourism industry must respond to criticisms from academics and the media and move towards conscious choices that reframe volunteer tourism away from development aid towards intercultural mutuality and decommodification.
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