Voluntourism Rocks; September 2008; Scientific American Earth 3.0; by Jim Cornfield; 4 Page(s)
Rain forests and tundra, deserts and savannas, mountaintops and undersea reefs. No spot on the planet is too remote for the movement that has changed the face of leisure travel. Ecotourism, in all its various guises¿green tourism, sustainable tourism, adventure travel¿has gained traction as enthusiasts seek to experience the earth¿s wonders while treading lightly on them.
Lately a new subset of this boom has emerged. ¿Voluntourism¿ ramps the ecological impulse up a notch, providing ways for vacationers to help save the world¿s sustainable resources. The trend has been described as a kind of mini version of the Peace Corps. Depending on your interests, you could find yourself repairing trails leading to Old Faithful, tracking sharks in the Atlantic, or mixing cement for housing in the Andes. Voluntourism is becoming a significant growth sector of the travel industry. Online trip planner Travelocity, for example, now partners with tour operators such as GlobeAware, Cross-Cultural Solutions and Take Pride in America, which specialize in launching voluntourists on service-oriented vacations.