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.
Wisdom & Insight
What's Next For VolunTourism?
As part of the 2006 VolunTourism Forum, we opened the discussion to attendees regarding how VolunTourism could best serve them. We also received feedback from the Wisdom Council on VolunTourism. Based upon their input, this is what we foresee in the coming months and years ahead.
A Clearing House
The Travel Trade wants ONE place to visit on the web that serves as the link to VolunTourism Operators and opportunities around the world. It should be easily navigable. It should have general information and up-to-date contact names, telephone numbers, and email addresses.
The types of service projects offered by each entity should be well-defined with descriptions that include the scope of work, necessary skills, anticipated interaction level with local residents, and degree of difficulty in terms of the labor provided by VolunTourists. Either a working budget for the project or, preferably, a per person price for participation with the appropriate inclusions - a meal, materials, insurance, coordination, etc. should also be part of the description.
"How To" Tools
If VolunTourism is to have a real future, then Volun-Tourism Operators (VO's) need to know "how to" do what is necessary to establish these programs and to market them effectively and to the proper audiences. The more advanced the "how to's," the more likely the VO's will be able to create a strategic plan for the phased develop-ment of these initiatives.
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Code of Conduct (Suggestions of Conduct)
Are there practices that should govern VolunTourism Operators?
Certainly there are reasons for establishing a "Code of Conduct" as it relates to VolunTourism. The ethics associated with VolunTourism are extremely sensitive. We are not simply talking about the financial aspect of tourism; we are also discussing the emotional and social impact of tourism for both residents and participants.
A "Code of Conduct" will most likely reflect the combination of these elements and focus especially on the sensitive nature of this type of travel, the vulnerability of residents and the psychical connections of Volun-Tourists to the service they provide and the long-term well being of residents.
But we also want to make VolunTourism "approachable" for all interested parties. With this in mind, it is likely that the "Code of Conduct" will be suggestive in its nature and inclusive in its language. In other words, it may very well be called "Suggestions of Conduct."
Links to organizations and entities that can assist Volun-Tourism Operators (VOs) in their pursuit of developing best practices, innovative services, and unique itineraries for VolunTourists are important to the success of VOs and to VolunTourism in general.
Additional Resources may also include general education on volunteering and philanthropy, a list of "Go To" sources in given destinations, insurance options, and social entrepreneurial practices.
The VolunTourism Forum
"Ice-Breaker" VolunTourism Event
"VolunTourism in practice" is what participants would like in the future. In 2007 and beyond, they would like the opportunity engage in a meaningful voluntary service project while in the destination and have this featured as part of the agenda for the Forum.
We will change the format of the Forum to incorporate a service project either as a fully dedicated day of service as a partial day option.
Folks want to tell their stories and to do so in a fashion that allows them to show pictures, brochures, and other materials to would-be VolunTourists and Travel Trade representatives that would eagerly utilize the services of VolunTourism Operators.
Specifically-Tailored Training & Education
Whether one is a tour operator or a potential Volun-Tourist, everyone comes to the Forum to learn. This year's attendees, however, stressed that they would like to learn in the company of like-minded professionals via tracks tailored to their specific needs.
General information is helpful, but it is most important to have interaction with peers who are addressing challenges and issues regarding VolunTourism that are specific to tour operators, or suppliers, or alumni travel executives, or VolunTourists.
The newsletter will now be offered as a quarterly publication. This is due in part to the challenges involved in publishing a monthly issue. But it is also representative of the fact that the "voluntourists" are not being served by any publication in the marketplace at present.
The VolunTourist will shortly have a version for participants, not simply the travel trade. This new issue will have a website of its own and will serve travelers who have the desire to make a difference in the lives of destination residents around the world.
If you have ideas or suggestions about the format that you would like to see for The VolunTourist for the traveler, please send in your comments by June 15, 2006.
VolunTourism is growing. We are not talking large, giant steps, and for this we are grateful.
There is much to learn, much to explore about the potential of VolunTourism throughout the world. With new technologies, new approaches to addressing social challenges, we have the opportunity to engage people in more meaningful, sustainable ways than those previously available to us.
This is what is exciting about the potential of VolunTourism. We are still very much riding on the crest of the wave. (Longboards are optional!)
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