Constructing Identity through the ‘Moral Consumption’ of Volunteer Tourism

Blue Mountains International Hotel School
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2016, pp. 1281 - 1287
Issue Date:
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Proceedings 2016.pdfPublished version15.08 MB
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Identity is associated with both travel experiences and consumption behaviours in contemporary consumer culture. Tourism experiences can be used to shape and reinforce identity; alternative tourism (e.g. volunteer tourism) in particular is closely associated with self-development. The volunteer tourism sector has been increasingly criticised in both academia and the mass media for creating a commercial product which potentially attracts more tourism-focussed volunteers who may be more likely to negatively impact the host community. Nonetheless, volunteer tourism is still widely associated with authenticity and altruism and arguably carries connotations of moral superiority compared to mainstream tourism. In this paper we argue that through the ‘moral consumption’ of volunteer tourism, Generation Y are able to access new forms of personal identity (e.g. altruistic, professional experience) and social identity (e.g. ‘moral’ tourist, global citizen). This paper is based on a case study of commercial volunteer tourists in Cusco, Peru.
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