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Thailand & VolunTourism
Our “3-Q’s” for this month were answered by Isabel Renters, Media Relations for the Tsunami Volunteer Center. Here is what she had to say in answer to our questions:
Editor's Note: Originally I considered not running these questions and answers because they are incomplete. But I re-examined my conclusions. I thought this would be an excellent way to demonstrate that although the media may be carrying stories about voluntourism efforts in areas stricken by the tsunami, this particular organization has not been one with which such projects have been conducted. The fact that the Tsunami Volunteer Center is not organizing voluntourism actitivities, I think, is worth noting.
Isabel prefaced her response with the following:
I would like to point out that, although we provide a link between volunteer opportunities and people worldwide, we have never considered ourselves as a voluntourism organization. Therefore, we have not researched this area extensively in the region we are working in. However, this is something, we may consider in the future and further research would be required, given that tourism in this region has been very exclusive in the past.
We are therefore not in a position to answer your questions factually, can, however, offer some observations.
1. How has the tourism industry embraced the idea of voluntourism as a mechanism to support the needs of the residents and the destination as a whole?
We are not aware of any activities from the tourism industry embracing the idea of voluntourism in this area. The general media here suggests that the tourism industry is preparing itself for tourists to start returning to the region next year (2006).
2. What have been some of the success stories that you have seen as it relates to VolunTourism in the Region?
Sorry, I cannot give you an answer to this as per the reasons above.
3. What would your advice be to the tourism industry professionals of the U.S. & Mexican Gulf Coast Regions that are considering the implementation of VolunTourism to address some of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita?
Advice to tourism professionals considering implementing voluntourism programs in other disaster areas would be to be aware of the potential speed of recovery of the area and how such things, as the cost of living, can rapidly increase for volunteers.
Also, the other important aspect is to do extensive research whether voluntourism is the kind of support the locals need and how long they would need it for.
The Tsunami Volunteer Center
THE TSUNAMI VOLUNTEER CENTER is a Thai-led organization, established in the aftermath of the most devastating natural tragedy of our lifetime.
Within days of the tsunami, Sombat Boonngamanong ( P' Nu Ring) joined countless others to provide crisis assistance in Thailand's worst hit area, Khao Lak. Harnessing the compassion of like-minded volunteers, long-time Social Entrepreneur P' Nu Ring, forged the Tsunami Volunteer Center; an NGO with one objective for the region - Restoration through empowerment.
Today, every undertaking – from children's programs to community reconstruction efforts – is done with a commitment to partnership with the people served. As a result, the Center has quickly grown to become one of the area's most-trusted partner organizations, known for delivering high-impact, sustainable results.
Despite the strides that have been made, widespread progress will take years. As an entirely donor-funded organization committed to continual renewal in the region, the Center will continue to depend primarily on financial aid and volunteers.
We welcome you to learn more about the inspiring people we work with and invite you to help in any way possible.
For media inquiries, contact Isabel Renters
For all other inquiries, firstname.lastname@example.org
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