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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 4 Issue 2 Highlights

 
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VOLUME 4 ISSUE 2 - Home

FEATURES:
FEATURE ARTICLE 1
FEATURE ARTICLE 2

COLUMNS:
So You May Know
UnXpected
Wisdom & Insight
VT-Lines
3-Q's
Supply Chain
Study & Research


ARCHIVES - Home

UnXpected

Thank you, again, for your interest in The VolunTourist and VolunTourism.org!

And a BIG Thank You to all who send us some great letters!

The Previous Issue's Reader Comments & Other Mail

H

Dear H.S.,

Thank you for your email.

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You have touched on an area that is definitely worth exploring, particularly in the U.S., although I would not rule out a similar possibility in other urban locations throughout the world. Community Development Corporations (CDCs) have a great deal to gain by connecting with VolunTourists who may be interested in applying knowledge and skills that are pertinent to the goals and objectives of CDCs. Other VolunTourists may be able to function in a support capacity, similar to programs such as Doctors Without Borders, which utilizes unskilled volunteers to assist physicians during pre- and post-surgery.

From the economic side, particularly tourism development, VolunTourism is an approach that can extend the travel season in a given destination. People speak of the "shoulder" season for travel and tourism in their locale and VolunTourism can be instrumental in supporting this period. City Parks, for example, that rely on volunteer labor to support them can benefit from folks coming prior to, or after, the peak travel season to assist in preparation and beautification or to help clean up and restore, respectively.

Insofar as conferences and gatherings are concerned, VolunTourism has played more of a support role to existing associations and conference groups. Discussions have served as pre-conference forums, via the Educational Travel Conference, and as part of breakout sessions at the Adventure Travel World Summit.

To this point, I have avoided creating a "stand-alone" conference because community stakeholders, which represent an incredibly rich and substantive part of the VolunTourism Stakeholder Group, have very limited funds to attend a national or international gathering. Without their participation, I have looked upon potential gatherings as far from complete.

As interest in VolunTourism grows, I am hopeful that Regional Stakeholder groups with regular gatherings can be formed to allow all stakeholders an opportunity to participate. Perhaps your area could be a good place to convene a group of regional folks.

Sincerely,

David L. Clemmons, Publisher/Editor

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Copyright © Global Community Service Foundation, All Rights Reserved

Dear E.W.,

Thank you for sharing your concerns.

Depending on with whom you speak, you are likely to encounter very few entities that ever have to address what you have put forward here. How do nonprofits and for-profit companies bypass these issues?

Most entities work in a manner very similar to that of a "contractor." They negotiate with local nonprofit organizations which have all of the established protocol that you have detailed herein. (But, make sure to conduct your own due diligence on these outfits as well.) These local NGOs pay their local staff according to the rules and regulations set forth by their respective governments. They identify the projects, pay local suppliers for materials to conduct projects, transportation, etc. The out-of-country entity, therefore, makes one payment to the local NGO, which, in turn, disseminates funds accordingly to all other parties that make the VolunTourism experience possible.

In some cases, however, entities will conduct their own due diligence, establish a nonprofit organization or company within the area in which they conduct operations according to all of the rules and regulations governing that state or province, city or township. This may, in some cases, take years to develop. Between hiring local lawyers and accountants to file the necessary paperwork, interviewing local residents to staff the operation, etc., the process can be tedious and very involved. Payments are then made from the parent entity directly to the "on-the-ground" entity - just as you would when you stay at a local hotel or take a taxi. (Of course, money transfers from one currency to another effect both types of interactions.)

To your question, specifically, each country will have its own rules and regulations governing nonprofits and how they may operate within the country. In some instances this will be completely handled at a "federal" level. In other instances there will be a filing made at a federal level, perhaps a regional level, and, it is quite possible, even at a local level. In Mexico, for example, this is the case. You may also want to be aware that some countries will declare entities as being "social" or "for the social good" but these may not offer "tax-deductibility" for those offering donations within that country. In these instances, "tax-deductibility" will involve a deeper level of rigor from a government entity, requiring an additional series of fees and paperwork to establish the organization as a true "nonprofit" in the terminology of countries like the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, and others. My recommdendation, if you pursue a course other than working with an already established NGO in a given community, is hire an attorney that specializes in nonprofit law in that destination.

You will also need to review the traveler guidelines in these countries. How long can a "voluntourist" stay in a destination? Is volunteering considered "work;" and is it, therefore, subject to other protocols as set forth by the government? In other words, is a travel visa sufficient?

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,

David L. Clemmons, Editor/Publisher

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Copyright © Global Community Service Foundation, All Rights Reserved

Dear R.P.,

Thanks for your email.

There is a very good example of what an ecolodge has been able to do via its connection to Chachapoyas Tours in Peru and, subsequently, to voluntourism activities in and around the area. I recommend that you connect with Charles & Tina Motley to discuss in greater detail how they helped to establish the lodge with the local residents and how they are now assisting them in hosting voluntourists interested in such things as tracking bird species in the area, participating in archaelogical digs, and other activities. It is a great model of collaboration and cooperation to support the sustainability of the lodge.

In general, you will discover that most ecolodges will concentrate on environmental projects focusing on the sustainability of the locale. These may come in the form of removing invasive plant species, cataloguing flora and fauna, assisting folks in carbon-offsetting by planting native plants, shrubs, and trees, etc. Some groups will conduct trail reconstruction & maintenance projects in and around an area to preserve the natural landscape that can become over-burdened by hikers and backpackers. It all depends on your location and what best serves the local residents and environment, of course. But if you are wondering what may be done, there are numerous examples across the globe.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,

David L. Clemmons, Editor/Publisher

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Copyright © Global Community Service Foundation, All Rights Reserved

Dear C.M. & W.M.,

Thank you for taking the time to submit your questions.

Without doubt, safety is a big concern, especially for voluntourists who may be visiting remote locations as part of their service work.

One of your biggest resources in determining safety is through the U.S. State Department's website. This is an invaluable tool for determining what places are likely to be troublesome. You may also want to connect with the U.S. Peace Corps to ask if they have recently experienced any challenges in a given destination.

In terms of resentment from locals, I have discovered through my conversations with other voluntourists and through my own travels, that resentment is mitigated by the fact that groups are coming for the purpose of being of service to the local community. Resentment is especially reduced when the local residents are participating side-by-side with voluntourists to address needs set forth by the local community.

Speaking with voluntourists that have participated in a particular program can also be helpful to alleviate fears and concerns that you may have. Additionally, you are encouraged, and in some cases mandated, to have a traveler's insurance policy that includes emergency medical evacuation insurance. And don't forget your trusty "common sense." This handy item is often overlooked, so make sure that you include it from the very begining of your search for a voluntourism experience. Do not select a program that you feel is "risky;" it is that simple.

Safety and security are planned outcomes of due diligence on your part. Granted, special and extenuating circumstances will occur, this is part of the nature of these engagements. But you know you better than anyone. Select programs that are in alignment with your risk tolerance.

Safe travels,

David L. Clemmons, Editor/Publisher

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