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Consumer demand will drive the rise of voluntourism shorex

Consumer demand will drive the rise of voluntourism shorex
Voluntourism has been growing since the 1990’s and was named a top travel trend by Conde Nast Traveler in 2013, commented moderator Nancy Shretter, founder and managing editor of Family Travel Network at the opening of a session on voluntourism at Seatrade Cruise Global today.

She said a recent study by Wakefiled Research for Travelocity showed 63% of Americans expressed interest in travel that combined an opportunity to volunteer with leisure time.

‘Among those who gave back, almost 80% made in-kind donations in their travel destinations and 64% spent time volunteering in local communities,’ said Shretter.

Tara Russell, president, Fathom & global impact lead, Carnival Corporation & Plc said the company’s newest brand idesigned for travellers who want to give time to serve a local community is set to start cruising in the Dominican Republic soon. ‘Voluntourism a niche, but consumers will drive their expectations of travel and will want more in the coming years.’

John Stoll, vp, land programs, Crystal Cruises explained  the luxury brand has been operating voluntourism adventures since 2011 and currently offers 250 annually in over 50 countries,  ‘encouraging guests to give up their time with random acts of kindness be it visiting schools, hospitals, animal rescue centres, food banks or cleaning up beaches.’

Hurtigruten’s ceo Daniel Skjeldam said voluntourism will be on everyone’s mind within the next 2-3 years.

Speaking with 30 plus years of offering voluntourism across the globe, Yoshioka Tatsuya, founder and director, Peace Boat said the company operates three 105 days round the world cruises a year visiting a total of 75 countries. He cited examples such as donating musical instruments to local communities, or understanding their needs. ‘just giving money can help, but in some cases,  it can destroy a community.’

Asked how ports can adapt to voluntourism, Russel said, ‘its about listening to local communities’ needs and empathy.

Skjeldam offered, ‘It’s important to educate the guest too on how to interact with local communities.’

Skeldam said for baby boomers ‘its about bragging rights’. He believes they are tired of selfie moments but want to actively take part in something and share what they are doing, ‘rather than taking a selfie with a cityscape background.’