The importance of child protection in Volunteer Tourism - a gap analysis for risk identification and derivation of recommendation for action

Friederike Hertwig (July 2014)

The hype of volunteering in foreign countries and indicating social commitment has been growing over the past decade. As volunteer tourism only developed towards an increased demand in recent years, the research is still not sophisticated. Hence, many key researchers of volunteer tourism have raised their voice for more critical analysis for impacts on local communities (Guttentag, 2009; Sin, 2009; Zahra & McGhee, 2013; Wearing, 2013).

In the tourism sector but also in other businesses, suppliers have introduced corporate responsibility as a management tool in order to consider all stakeholders and minimise negative impacts. Similarly, in volunteer tourism the providers need to find a way to protect the rights of local communities and especially their children. Children are particular vulnerable as they are still in the phase of development. The demand for volunteer tourism with children has increased and many children in developing countries are put at risk. Volunteer tourism claims to help children and contributes to a positive development work.

Yet, recent trends have moved towards a profit-driven industry, focussing less on children’ needs. Due to the life-long and severe consequences on children’s development and the increasing demand for volunteer tourism, the need for an implementation of regulations and standards to prevent negative impacts for children, is constantly increasing.


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