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Volunteer tourism is a rapidly growing form of alternative travel and one of its central pillars consists of generating beneficial impacts in host destinations. However, few mechanisms have been proposed or developed to understand, identify or assess the impacts of volunteer tourism in host communities. One strategy to assess these impacts is by developing sociocultural, economic and environmental indicators. Literature on international development, social indicators and volunteer tourism suggests that indicator development should engage both host communities and volunteer tourism organizations (VTOs). This article presents an approach to accomplish this often difficult task. An online questionnaire solicited data from VTOs regarding indicators that they believe are most useful to understand the community impacts of their programs. Exploratory workshops in five host communities of volunteer tourism in Ecuador and Costa Rica generated additional indicators that are locally-relevant and appropriate. Data from these distinct approaches to indicator development are compared and contrasted to understand how they can be used to reflect the interests of both stakeholder groups. The compass of sustainability was used as a framework to guide indicator development for both the survey and the workshops and its potential to guide future initiatives is discussed. This research revealed the need to promote collaboration among VTOs and host communities to jointly develop indicators to ensure that volunteer tourism can address their mutual goals and needs.
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- Assessing the Local Impacts of Volunteer Tourism: Comparing Two Unique Approaches to Indicator Development
Christopher A. Lupoli
Wayde C. Morse
- Springer Netherlands
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