Volunteer Travel Industry: Insights and Findings

The growing popularity of volunteer travel or voluntourism has people curious about the industry asking — who takes these trips and what is it about? As one of the fastest growing areas in travel, people in and out of volunteer tourism want to get a good look into this developing industry.

Alexia Nestora of Lasso Communications sent us their newly released volunteer travel study, conducted in conjunction with GeckoGo and Bradt Travel Guides, that provided a snapshot of consumer attitudes toward volunteer travel, the motivations behind taking this kind of trip and expectations for volunteering abroad. Note: About 51% of the survey respondents were from Europe and 24% from the U.S. so the responses may not completely reflect what Americans are thinking and doing.

voluntourismsurvey - Volunteer Travel Industry: Insights and Findings

We thought the group gathered good key metrics and provided some useful findings about the volunteer travel industry. While none of the findings were particularly “new” to the industry, they were nonetheless interesting and confirmed previous industry reports and assumptions.

From the report, there was strong evidence of sustainability and longevity for volunteer travel abroad. Of those surveyed, 89% thought volunteering abroad was a good idea to see the world and give back while 6% rather volunteer at home. Travelers were more likely to arrange their travels through an organization, but independently organized trips were gaining ground and price was a major consideration.

Based on the findings of travelers’ concern with pricing, coupled with greater amount of information available on the Internet, we expect the DYI (do-it-yourself) volunteer travel segment will benefit most — with its market share rising in the coming years. We don’t believe this segment is completely ready to take off until information becomes more reliable. However, the industry will need to start considering ways to justify the value of organized tours, which means we can expect to see strong branding and other differentiations in the future.

Some interesting findings from the report:

Types of Volunteer Travel:
Volunteer with organization: 48%
Independently organized: 34%
Faith-based: 29%

Barriers to Volunteer Travel:
Price: 43%
Time: 36%

Amount Willing to Spend on Volunteer Travel:
$1000 or under: 80%
Over $1000: 20%

Popular Desired Volunteer Destinations:
South America – Peru (23%), Brazil (14%)
Asia Pacific – Australia (11%), India (11%), Thailand (7%)

For Americans: Peru (16%), Costa Rica (15%), Australia (13%), South Africa (12%)

Types of Work:
Humanitarian: 62%
Conservation/Teaching: 56%
Community Development: 53%

Where to Volunteer Based on:
Usefulness: 38%
Personal Learning: 21%
Convenience: 2%

For the full report, go to http://www.geckogo.com/volunteer/report2009.

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