1. bookVolume 9 (2019): Issue 2 (December 2019)
Journal Details
First Published
30 Apr 2016
Publication timeframe
3 times per year
access type Open Access

The Carbon Footprint of Volunteer Tourism

Published Online: 04 May 2020
Volume & Issue: Volume 9 (2019) - Issue 2 (December 2019)
Page range: 15 - 25
Received: 05 Jun 2019
Accepted: 26 Nov 2019
Journal Details
First Published
30 Apr 2016
Publication timeframe
3 times per year

Tourism is growing at a fast rate and so is its carbon footprint. Alongside conventional tourism, a new form of tourism, so-called voluntourism, has emerged. The discussion on voluntourism in the existing literature has hereby mainly centred around its positive impacts on the health and education of communities and the local environment in developing countries. Nevertheless, little attention has been drawn to its climate impacts. This study set out to investigate the carbon footprint of voluntourism. The data were collected at a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) in India working with voluntourists. Both the carbon footprint of the stay in India and that from the round trip by air were taken into consideration. The results showed that although the carbon footprint of voluntourists during their stay is comparable with that of locals, the flight significantly contributes to the carbon footprint of voluntourism. Depending on the distance flown and the length of the stay, the average share of the carbon footprint stemming from the flight can be between 83% and 96%. The article concludes that faraway destinations and short stays should be avoided; otherwise voluntourism might cause more harm than good. On the basis of the findings, this article provides recommendations for policymakers and further research.


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