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The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in discovering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism™ and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.

Volume 6 Issue 1 Highlights



What, If Any, Impact Will 'EYV 2011' Have On VolunTourism?

It was nearly a decade ago (2001), when the United Nations declared its 'International Year of the Volunteer' (IYV). In 2011, the Council of the European Union will be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of IYV with a year of its own - the European Year of Volunteering (EYV). With 27 countries participating and 8 million euros available for such things as promotion and educational materials to increase awareness of volunteering locally and globally, what, if any impact will 'EYV 2011' have on VolunTourism?

Introduction To 'Volunteering In The European Union'

17 February 2010 marked the release of a 326-page report on Volunteering In The European Union. Even a cursory glance of the Executive Summary, proves helpful for those who are seeking a clearer understanding of the 'Volunteering landscape in the EU.' Here is the first paragraph from this section of the report:

To put this somewhat into perspective, here are numbers with percentages for volunteering in:

One of the primary reasons for conducting the statistical reviews and data collection that went into compiling the Volunteering In The European Union report was to generate a series of recommendations to support the development of the European Year of the Volunteer - EYV - 2011. The section marked 'Recommendations' starts by focusing on 'Promoting legal and policy frameworks to support volunteering':

EYV 2011 National Coordinating Bodies

Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales und Konsumentenschutz
- Vlaams Steunpunt Vrijwilligerswerk vzw
- Plate forme Francophone du Volontariat asbl
- Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Belgiens
Abteilung für kulturelle und soziale Angelegenheiten – Stab

- Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria
- Minitry of Education, Youth and Sport
- Ministry of Social Affairs
- Estonian Ministry of Interior
- Ministry of Justice
- Haut Commissaire à la Jeunesse
Direction de la jeunesse, de l'éducation populaire et de la vie associative

- Bundesministerium f[ur Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend
- ESYN- Hellenic Youth Council
- Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour
Republic of Hungary

- Volunteering Ireland
- Ministero del Lavoro, della Salute e delle Politiche Sociali
- Ministry of Education and Science
- Ministry of Social, Security and Labour of Lithuania
- Ministère de la Famille et de l'Intégration
- Ministry of Labour and Social Policy
- Conselho Nacional para a Promoção do Voluntariado
- Centre de Recherche et Consultation dans le Domaine de la Culture
- IUVENTA - Slovak Youth Institute
Youth Development Department

- Ministry of Public Administration
- Ministerio de Sanidad y de Política Social
- Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality
- Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports
- Office of the Third Sector (OTS) - Cabinet Office

{Source: European Year of Volunteering 2011 - National Coordinating Bodies}

I will point out that each of these items, in my opinion, is relevant to voluntourism. However, item #2, #3, #5, and #6 seem most relevant. And when we think of item #6 in the context of the 27 EU Member States that are participating in EYV 2011 (see EYV 2011 National Coordinating Bodies insert left) volunteering internationally does not necessarily mean doing so in a 'developing' country.

Finally, also under the heading of 'Recommendations,' comes 'Networking to promote volunteering: encouraging research and exchange of good practices':

What Do We Know About EYV 2011 And What Is The VolunTourism Community Consensus On It?

On 27 November 2009, the Council of the European Union established 2011 as the 'European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship.' The European Commission has set up a section within its website entitled European Year of Volunteering 2011 that features numerous links for those who wish to take a closer look.

I conducted a straw poll with some of my European contacts to ask the very question posed as the title of this article: "What, if any, impact will the European Year of the Volunteer (EYV 2011) have on voluntourism?"

The first thing that I discovered from the responses was that EYV 2011 was virtually unheard of in the VolunTourism Community. This did not surprise me, of course, as the announcement had occurred just prior to the end-of-year holidays and the logo for the initiative, to my knowledge, is still not completed. Therefore, unless you spend the bulk of your time focusing on solely on volunteering, this would be 'news' to you.

However, I did appreciate the responses I received and would like to share some of them with you:

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As you can see from these remarks, the overall consensus is that EYV 2011 will have a positive impact on voluntourism.

Additional Thoughts On EYV 2011

What sector could be better poised to take full advantage of EYV 2011 than hospitality & tourism? Employee involvement seems to be the first, most logical step. Utilizing EYV 2011 as a backdrop to increase social responsibility and civic engagement in the communities in which tour operators, hoteliers, airlines, and transport companies conduct business has an appeal that travels well beyond the executive suite. In turn, once these relationships are more solidified through ongoing contributions by executives and staff alike, it becomes infinitely easier to facilitate the inclusion of visitors and guests - be they leisure or business travelers.

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It seems a foregone conclusion that the Council of the European Union would look favorably upon any implementation strategies in which the use of leveraged funds and cross-sector partnerships play an instrumental role. Such initiatives could certainly serve to expand awareness of EYV 2011 and broaden the reach to a substantial population within the EU. Clearly, any partnerships established between the Third Sector and the Hospitality & Tourism Sector in response to the call of EYV 2011 would fulfill such goals & objectives.

As Ms. Grayson and Ms. Serwe point out, the opportunity to build on good practices and increase the research on, and subsequent understanding of, voluntourism could also be appealing, given some of the language of the Council this seems reasonable.

At the end of the day, we know the only way EYV 2011 will have any long-term impact on voluntourism will be based upon how members of the VolunTourism Community and those within the Third Sector and Hospitality & Tourism Sector respond to this opportunity. Seeing it as an opportunity is the first step; will it lead to action? commitment? engagement? The clock is ticking...

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