Short-term & luxury hotel – is this responsible voluntourism?

Short-term & luxury hotel – is this responsible voluntourism?

When it comes to banging on about responsible volunteering – we at people and places are out there at the front of the demos!

One of the hottest topics of debate ( this article in The Guardian and the ensuing comments is but one example) is whether or not short-term volunteering mixed with a holiday –  ‘voluntourism’ – is responsible. We think it’s controversial too – and so it should be!

In the midst of this current controversy, we are proud to announce the latest SHORT TERM VOLUNTOURISM trip with ITC Giving in St Lucia – where travellers will visit and work with a  project supporting marginalised youth.


For us responsibility is simple – is it a win for visitor and community alike? If  not, it’s not responsible in our book. So –

It’s not with the fully informed consent of the community ? Not responsible
Safety of volunteer and community not a priority? Not responsible
Working instead of not with local people? Not responsible
Smoke and mirrors about how volunteers money is spent? Not responsible
Local communities subsidising volunteers? Not responsible

Some will argue that we should add:
You can only give  a week? –  not responsible!
You want to stay in a fancy hotel?  –  not responsible!


It is down to us, the gatekeepers, to ensure that every volunteer or “voluntour” trip is responsible.
It’s down to us to guide potential voluntourists in the realities of what can and cannot be achieved in the time they have to give.

Will someone please explain to me why someone who enjoys and can afford the comfort of a luxury hotel and chooses to turn left as they enter the plane cannot be a responsible volunteer? I know their hotel may use too much water or not purchase locally – but a homestay may well have a sewage system that evacuates directly into the nearest source of drinking or bathing water or  be in a community that practices female genital mutilation – it’s complicated stuff this responsibility!!!

So Keep It Simple Stupid – for us volunteering must be a win-win situation for visitor and community – we will not ignore our core values of transparency and mutual respect – and we are so pleased that ITC has the courage and vision to work with us on this challenging programme. We have so much to learn together – and the most important teachers will be our local host communities.

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