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Volunteer tourists in the field : a question of balance?

Tomazos, Konstantinos and Butler, Richard (2012) Volunteer tourists in the field : a question of balance? Tourism Management, 33 (1). pp. 177-187. ISSN 0261-5177

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Abstract

This paper is based on a study of volunteering at a children’s refuge in Mexico. This study explored the relationship between volunteers, their volunteering experiences and the behaviour that resulted. The study findings revealed volunteers were provided with the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the every-day lives of the children at the children’s home. However the findings also demonstrated that the volunteering experience consisted of much more than just the work duties carried out there, as volunteers also undertook tourist activities. Living in shared accommodation in walking distance from the busy tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta, the volunteers were faced with the difficult task of balancing commitment to their work duties at the children’s home with the lure of more hedonistic pursuits. This balancing act raises questions about the management of volunteer tourists.