Tourism and 'dirt' : a case study of WWOOF farms in New Zealand

Wengel, Yana and McIntosh, Alison and Cockburn-Wootten, Cheryl (2018) Tourism and 'dirt' : a case study of WWOOF farms in New Zealand. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 35. pp. 46-55. ISSN 1447-6770

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    Abstract

    Tourism research on host-guest relations in non-profit exchange programmes remains scant. Using a case study of WWOOF farms in New Zealand, this paper examines the experiences of farmers and volunteers (‘WWOOFers’) in the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) programme. Using qualitative methods that privileged participants’ voices, the research aimed to uncover the nature of the host-guest relationship in non-for-profit tourism. The key theme of ‘dirt’ is explored in this paper to illustrate both the physical nature of the voluntary farm work and the perceived exploitation of volunteers that are reported to characterise this experience. Overall, the findings challenge the idealistic aims of this type of volunteer tourism exchange programme that is usually reported in tourism literature. Specifically, the findings indicate the tensions of economic and ethical accountability within the WWOOF network and its community. The paper contributes to tourism studies research by providing a further understanding of the experiences shaping the relations and tensions between hosts and guests in this non-profit exchange programme.