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Ethical Tourism

 Want to volunteer overseas?

That’s great! But before signing up for a volunteer placement, it’s important to do your research. Use this checklist to help you to decide on a responsible, ethical way to volunteer or travel:

  • My skill set is a good fit for this placement- there’s an identified need for the skills that I have, and volunteers are not taking away from local jobs.
  • The organisation only takes volunteers with the skills and qualifications relevant for the work. This is especially important for organisations working with children.
  • The organisation has a clear plan for creating sustainable change, rather than giving one-time handouts. For example, they provide quality skills training for local people.
  • The goals of the program are guided by local people and accurately reflect the needs of that community.
  • The organisation is clear and transparent about how my money will be spent.

If I’m not qualified to volunteer, how can I be an ethical tourist?

Instead of taking part in voluntourism*, you can have a more powerful impact by participating in an educational or cultural immersion opportunity run by local organisations. This can give you the chance to learn more about the country you’re travelling to, while financially supporting local tourism initiatives and businesses. By more deeply understanding the culture, history, and challenges that a country has, you’ll be better placed to make an impact in the future- whether that’s by volunteering, donating, or raising awareness.

At Oaktree, we believe strongly in a partnerships-based approach to creating social change, where local people are at the centre of decision-making. That’s why making ethical choices about volunteering and tourism is so important.

Want to learn more? Check out Oaktree's blog on The Ethics of Voluntourism

*‘Voluntourism’ refers to participation in short-term volunteer trips to low-income countries. While well-intentioned, these programs can actually have the effect of disempowering local communities, by placing volunteers in roles they are not skilled to undertake, or disrupting the employment and social structures of those communities.

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