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RESOURCES: PAPERS & PRESENTATIONS
|Author :||Kevin Lyons|
|School/Work Place :||University of Newcastle, Australia|
The popularity of volunteer tourism as a form of alternative tourism has grown significantly over the past decade (McGehee, and Norman, 2002). Volunteer tourists can now be found throughout the world participating in a wide array of social, educational, political and environmental projects. While these projects continue to use volunteer tourists as a significant source of labour, the NGOs and community organisations that provide and support them have begun exploring other innovative ways to attract and engage volunteer tourists who may wish to provide their voluntary labour in less direct ways. As a result programs are now emerging that move beyond the convention established in volunteer tourism where participants travel to a destination community to volunteer their labour while simultaneously being a ‘tourist’ in the broadest sense of the word. Instead, these new programs fuse adventure, volunteerism and philanthropy incrementally into an innovative tourism experience that challenges traditional debates about the decommodifying processes (Wearing, McDonald, and Ponting, 2005) embedded in volunteer tourism. One example of this new type of volunteer tourism is the development and provision of fundraising adventure tours. Fundraising adventure tourism has been adopted by a number of NGO’s who recruit participants willing to raise a pre-determined sum of money half of which is used to support the NGO’s core business and the remaining funds are used to fund an adventure tour.
Previous arguments have suggested that volunteer tourism does not fit into the commodified regime of mass and packaged tourism as its focus is not on the exchange value in the tourism system (Wearing et al. 2005). This paper explores whether the act of fundraising as an act of volunteering, conducted prior to participating in an adventure tour enabled participants to experience the decommodified frame of gift economy that has been heralded as the hallmark of volunteer tourism (Wearing, 2001) or whether this separation undermines this process. This paper presents a case study of one of these innovative programs developed and operated by Oxfam Community Aid Abroad Australia – Oxfam Challenge program.
This paper draws on the marketing materials of Oxfam and presents findings from an analysis of diaries and web-blogs of 25 individuals who participated in fundraising/cycling adventures with Oxfam Australia– Oxfam Challenge program. The adventure fundraising tour conducted by Oxfam Australia is marketed as an adventure experience with a difference. OXFAM Australia recruits participants willing to raise $5000 which in-part covers the cost of a two week cycling tour through remote villages in China, Vietnam or Cambodia where they visit environmental and humanitarian projects and where the funds they raised are being used. While participants are recruited through Oxfam Australia, the adventure tour component of the program is outsourced to a commercial travel service provider who provides a fully packaged program including airfares, meals, a bicycle, and a guide. This component of the experience is almost identical to any packaged adventurebased tour conducted by a wide range of operators globally.