Exploring the motivations and outcomes of long-term international sport-for-development volunteering for American Millennials

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Sport and Tourism, 2014, 19 (3-4), pp. 299 - 316
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Taylor & Francis. Volunteer tourism is the fastest growing segment of the alternative tourism market and often a key feature of sport-for-development organizational models. The growing commercialization of this alternative tourism threatens efforts to build a sustainable model of long-term positive outcomes for both the host community and guest volunteers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the motivations and impacts that a long-term international experience with a sport-for-development initiative had on volunteers from the United States. The authors spent five weeks in Granada and conducted semi-structured interviews with key personnel including out-going yearlong volunteer interns, incoming yearlong volunteer interns, and local Nicaraguan full-time staff. Guided by the volunteer motivational literature, data analysis illustrated three key findings. The most prominent theme involved the motivation of going abroad to gain a cultural experience, in particular to increase global understanding and provide social gains. In addition, our results illustrate the motivations of one's career and professional goals, and the ability to give back to a foreign culture through the use of sport. This demonstrates the potential for sport-for-development organizations to successfully incorporate volunteer tourism into a sustainable model based on specific volunteer recruitment and structure of their experiences.
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