Press Coverage of my Study, ‘Volunteer tourism, greenwashing and understanding responsible marketing’

Further to the publication of my study ‘Volunteer tourism, greenwashing and understanding responsible marketing using market signalling theory‘ in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, the following press coverage and articles were prompted:

10 February, 2014.
Tourism Concern Newsletter + Article: Volunteer tourism: ‘the more expensive, the less responsible’ study concludes (now unavailable on new TC site).
“Volunteering continues to be in the news and research published today by Leeds Metropolitan University found that volunteer tourism organizations that offer the most expensive products are likely to be the least responsible”. “The study, published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, led by Victoria Smith and Dr Xavier Font, suggests that price and responsibility display an inverse relationship when considering comparable volunteer tourism products, on a price-per-day basis. The product or content that communicated the least how it was responsible tended to be the most expensive. In the study, the researchers also suggest that volunteer tourism organisations should be taking their responsibility more seriously especially in marketing their programs to potential volunteers”. “Tour companies market themselves to potential volunteers with slick websites and compelling imagery so it comes as no surprise that price and responsibility have an inverse relationship. Equally price is no guarantee that volunteers will have a rewarding experience – many of the volunteering placements being offered by commercial operators are little more than expensive holidays.”

11 February, 2014
Travelmole Industry News: “Most Expensive Volunteer Trips, Least Responsible
Volunteer tourism organisations that offer the most expensive products are likely to be the least responsible, claim researchers from Leeds Metropolitan University who urged tour operators not to package volunteer trips like holidays.

11 February, 2014
The Telegraph: ‘Expensive voluntourism trips ‘the least responsible’
Volunteer tourism, or “voluntourism”, is promoted as a meaningful and ethical holiday choice which offers authentic experiences conferring benefits on local communities. But a new study carried out by Leeds Metropolitan University has sounding a warning to those considering such a project for their gap year this summer. Researchers analysed the websites of comparable volunteer tourism projects and found it was those who said the least about being responsible that cost the most, on a price-per-day basis. The results were obtained using a web content analysis tool which rated a company’s stated commitment to ensuring its projects were responsible.

13 February, 2014
The Voluntourism Institute: VolunTourism: Addressing The Responsibility-Profitability Paradox
“The main point of this post is to honor the research findings presented by Smith & Font in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism while emphasizing the learning that can come from them. Rather than focusing on merely the “fears” that could manifest in the media & social media sphere around voluntourism profitability, we could see this as a real opportunity to learn about managing a core polarity: Profitability AND Responsibility. The biggest challenge, perhaps, is that we are looking at voluntourism as something that needs to be solved, a problem in our world. More likely what is true is that voluntourism is a polarity to be managed.”

17 February, 2014
The Guardian: Volunteer holidays: how to find an ethical project
There are hundreds of ‘voluntourism’ projects available, but a new report claims few of them are doing as much good as they claim. So how do you find an experience that genuinely makes a difference? Two experts in responsible tourism give their tips

18 February, 2014
Tourism Concern article: Volunteer tourism marketing is in trouble
Voluntourism is often promoted as a way to experience authenticity within the context of responsible tourism beneficial to destinations, with the expectation of creating “better places for people to live in, and better places to visit”. Yet recent research from Leeds Metropolitan University found that the marketing of voluntourism isn’t sufficiently transparent.

12 March, 2014
VISION on Sustainable Tourism Newsletter + Article: ‘Voluntourism – the more you pay the less they get

12 March, 2014
Tourism Concern Newsletter: ‘Volunteer tourism marketing is in trouble

13 March, 2014
Wall Street Journal: ‘Animal-Centric Voluntourism Trips
You don’t need to be a zoo veterinarian or have a Ph.D. in marine biology to interact with exotic animals. Volunteer vacations offer critter-loving travelers opportunities to get up close with wildlife—on these trips, you can coddle elephants, study wild chimp populations or tag baby penguins. But don’t be seduced by a photo of a bottle-fed lion cub or orphaned orangutan plastered across the Internet; too many operations misrepresent their volunteer experiences and charitable credentials. “Volunteer tourism has grown hugely from the early 2000s, and the industry has gotten away with being quite vague,” said Victoria Smith, a responsible-tourism marketing consultant. “You have to really know what you’re looking for in order to be able to evaluate [the options] online.”

April 2014
National Geographic Traveller Magazine:Voluntourism: Every Little Helps?
“A recent report by Leeds Metropolitan University showed a direct correlation between cost and quality, noting the volunteer tourism organisations offering the most expensive products are likely to be the least responsible…”.

Tbc, March 2014
Voluntourism.org

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25 Responses to Press Coverage of my Study, ‘Volunteer tourism, greenwashing and understanding responsible marketing’

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