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Title: Who are we responsible to? Locals' tales of volunteer tourism
Authors: Sin, H.L. 
Keywords: Cambodia
Geographies of care and responsibility
Responsible tourism
Volunteer tourism
Issue Date: Nov-2010
Citation: Sin, H.L. (2010-11). Who are we responsible to? Locals' tales of volunteer tourism. Geoforum 41 (6) : 983-992. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Existing studies have often suggested that volunteer tourism, with strong overtones of " social" , " justice" and " pro-poor" tourism, has the capacity to bring about positive impacts to local communities in host destinations. Wearing, for example, advocates volunteer tourism " as a development strategy leading to sustainable development and centering the convergence of natural resource qualities, locals and the visitors that all benefit from tourism activity" (Wearing, 2001: p. 12). Indeed, underlying assumptions in volunteer tourism suggest that it is a form of tourism that allows the empowering of locals in host-communities, and when compared to conventional modes of tourism, volunteer tourism allows cultural interaction and understanding to be developed between hosts and tourists in the longer period and more intimate form of contact. This, together with very direct and tangible outcomes of volunteer projects, appears to put in place a platform where locals and tourists both have the power to actively negotiate their identities and relations with each other.However, despite these deep-seated assumptions about the positive value in volunteer tourism, little empirical research has been conducted to assess the situation on the ground. Existing literature is largely centered on the volunteer tourist, with little works directly regarding the perspectives of host-communities. This places much uncertainty on whether the assumed benefits of volunteer tourism are indeed realized. Adopting a geographical approach, this paper begins with a review of existing discussions on the geographies of care and responsibility, and its intersections with literature on responsible tourism (of which volunteer tourism is often seen to be a part of). Opinions re-presented in this paper are based on interviews with 14 respondents in Cambodia (including local Cambodians, non-government organizations' (NGO) and missionary workers that have previously hosted volunteer tourists in Cambodia. This paper thus explores both positive and negative opinions of volunteer tourism from the perspective of host-communities, and endeavors to contribute a balanced discussion to the limited literature regarding host-communities' perspectives in tourism development. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Source Title: Geoforum
ISSN: 00167185
DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2010.08.007
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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