It is imperative to ensure that the volunteer tourism sector is perceived in an accurate light to ensure that the tourists are signing up for what they are actually going to get, and to ensure that the hosts are aware of the industry that they may be entering. In order to ensure a profit maximising, long lasting and sustainable industry that delivers the intended benefits, it is important that the industry is portrayed accurately. At present this does not appear to be the case. My first published paper examines the perceptions of the volunteer tourism sector from both a Western tourists’ perspective and a hosts’ perspective and identifies three key research themes demonstrating substantial differences and the possibility of misperceptions of the industry: educational benefit, tourists living and working in the host community and the possible contribution to community development. Discussion of the limitations of definitional boundaries and associated sectors provides justification for the potential misperceptions of the industry. Through the use of 26 in-depth interviews, the study reveals a number of key concepts and highlights areas that warrant further research.
To read this paper in full you can obtain it from http://thr.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/03/20/1467358414527984.abstract
As an active academic and researcher I am currently investigating the role of TEFL Teachers and their place within the volunteer tourism industry. If you have travelled outside of your home country to work as a TEFL Teacher and would be happy to participate in my research then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org . Alternatively, if you have any suggested papers or research that you think would be beneficial feel free to comment below!