Neo-Colonialism and the Volunteer Tourist Gaze: Commercial Volunteer Tourism in Cusco, Peru

Publisher:
School of Business and Tourism, Southern Cross University
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
CAUTHE 2015: Rising Tides and Sea Changes: Adaptation and Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality, 2015, pp. 135 - 143
Issue Date:
2015
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In recent years volunteer tourism has become increasingly commercialised and this has shifted the relationship between the volunteer tourist, the volunteer tourism organisation and the host community. Compared to mass tourism, the more reciprocal tourist-host interaction of volunteer tourism has traditionally been assumed to create a more authentic travel experience resulting in increased cross-cultural understanding. However, this paper suggests that this is perhaps no longer the case in contemporary commercial volunteer tourism. The paper presents a case study of a large commercial volunteer tourism organisation in Cusco, Peru and explores the volunteer tourists’ perceptions of Cusco and their interactions with the host community. Unlike early volunteer tourism research which suggested this alternative form of tourism could provide an alternate gaze, this paper proposes that the gaze created by contemporary commercial large-scale volunteer tourism reflects neo-colonial perspectives that reinforce differences rather than fostering understanding between volunteer tourists and the host community.
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