Volunteering and Tourism

The Volunteering and Tourism SIG operated from 2009 – 2019. The following is an archive of the SIG activities and publications.

Focus and Themes

The group aims to foster an environment of collaboration to promote dialogue between academics, educators and students interested in volunteering and tourism and forge links with relevant industry and other stakeholders. The intersection between volunteering and tourism is an important one for the future of the tourism industry. The SIG will play a central role in considering this intersection not only in terms of the role volunteers play in the supply of tourism but also the growing demand for volunteer experiences as a form of alternative tourism. The group will also consider those forms of voluntary behaviour which may fall outside more narrowly defined categories where volunteering and tourism intersect and will consider how volunteers can straddle and make problematic the supply and demand boundaries of tourism.

Key Outcomes for Members

Members will receive access to a network of government and industry based organisations working in this area and a chance to be part of a network of academics to support them in their research. Members will be provided with opportunities to collaborate with a wide range of academics that are geographically dispersed and access to other academic associations to encourage collaborative research and create grant and publishing opportunities. The group will provide information sharing opportunities and provide a forum within which to receive feedback from peers to improve the quality of their research and educational output.

Past Activities


  • A report on the State of Play in Volunteer Tourism indicates there is a continued attack on the area due to the use of dated information. Volunteer Tourism has made the Harvard Political Review. The article Can Help Hurt? demonstrates how research is failing the area with only one outside ‘expert’ being asked for comment.
  • Venture Capital takes over the Balmain Basket Weavers in VT meeting based on article Mercury Capital books ride with new tourism play at CAUTHE 2018 conference.


  • Stephen Wearing, SIG co-coordinator, participated in a radio interview Should you participate in volunteer tourism? Stephen also spoke up about volunteer orphanage tourism on thewire.org.au.
  • Volunteering and Tourism guest speaker facilitated by Eliza Raymond, co-founder and Director of Operations for GOOD travel at CAUTHE 2017 conference.



  • The SIG was represented by Stephen Wearing, Kevin Lyons, Angela Benson, Simone Faulkner-Grabowski partnered with CCS, Newcastle University, and UTS Business School to present a mid-year one-day seminar at UTS for students, parents and academics entitled: Broadened Horizons? Why a Gap-Year about how youth travel experiences can contribute to education, employability and global citizenship.
  • Support for the international Series of six seminars on International Volunteering
    • Seminar 1 – Blurred Boundaries of International Volunteering, 11 February 2015, Eastbourne Campus, University of Brighton
    • Seminar 2 – International Volunteering and the Millennium Development Goals: Making a Difference? 25 March 2015, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Themed special issue of Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes (WHATT), Volume 7 Number 2, 2015, Why and how should the international volunteer tourism experience be improved? The issue was as a direct consequence of the ESRC Festival of Social Science funded event “Pursuing Quality in International Volunteering” held in Brighton, November 2013. Theme Editor Angela M Benson shares her reflections on the significance and outcomes of the theme issue with Managing Editor Richard Teare.


  • CAUTHE 2014 conference included one concurrent session with six papers dedicated to volunteering and tourism.
  • Development of plans and appointment of new coordinator(s) at the annual CAUTHE 2014 SIG meeting.
  • In March, ABC Radio National’s Encounter programme broadcasted an interview about volunteer tourism with Stephen Wearing, and are investigating the possibility of another interview on volunteer tourism for industry (Asia Pacific Travel Association) and education (CAUTHE) with Stephen, Simone Faulkner and Jane Godfrey as the presenters.
  • Preliminary discussions have taken place regarding holding a Volunteering and Tourism SIG symposium/conference directly prior to or after the 23rd International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) ‘World Volunteer Conference and Youth Forum’ on the Gold Coast in September 2014. This is a large international volunteering conference to be held in Australia in 2014 that expects to host over one thousand delegates and would therefore be particularly relevant for members of the SIG.


  • CAUTHE 2013 conference at Lincoln University included one concurrent session on volunteering and tourism which attracted five papers for presentation.
  • The SIG annual meeting, held during the CAUTHE 2013 conference included:
    • Jane Godfrey – presented preliminary findings of PhD data collection from Peru which focussed on volunteers’ multiple identities.
    • Stephen Wearing – discussed volunteer organisations and questioned the role of a National Volunteer Tourism Strategy for Australia and New Zealand.
  • The Royal Geographical Society annual conference in London in August 2013 included two sessions on volunteer tourism. Jane Godfrey attended the conference and connected with other volunteer tourism researchers from the UK and around the world including Angela Benson and Elisa Burrai.
  • The inaugural Australasian Tourism, Leisure, Sport and Hospitality Postgraduate Research Symposium was held at UTS in Sydney at the beginning of December 2013. Stephen Wearing was a guest speaker and there was a stream dedicated to volunteer tourism which included four papers from PhD students. This was an important session for young researchers to potentially move up in the academy.
  • The ANZALS 2013 conference was held in Melbourne. Kirsten Holmes co-chaired a stream with Geoff Nichols entitled Time for volunteering, time for leisure, time for life. The stream included ten papers and created opportunities for collaborative partnerships between CAUTHE and ANZALS members.


  • Developing National Volunteer Tourism Strategies
    • Stephen Wearing developed an outline to be used as the basis for a discussion at CAUTHE 2013. He also discussed opportunities with Angela Benson (Volunteer Tourism Group, ATLAS), Nancy McGehee (voluntourism.org) and BEST to develop a network.
    • Spoke at the World Leisure Conference on Sept 29th – Oct 4th 2013 in Rimini Italy with the Volunteer Interest Group Chair Robert Stebbins about some of these developments.
    • An initial inquiry to the WTO about funding the development of Volunteer Tourism guidelines by Stephen Wearing. The TIES guidelines for Volunteer Tourism are close to completion and will be released in the next few months.
  • International meeting/seminar/conference proposed as a part of or before one of the major tourism events such as BEST, ATLAS in the next two years.


  • CAUTHE 2011 meeting chaired by Dr. Stephen Wearing at CAUTHE Conference in Adelaide, South Australia.
  • Volunteer Tourism: Theoretical Frameworks and Practical Applications (edited by Angela Benson). This book was published with a several of the chapters developed from the 2009 Symposium.
  • Volunteer Tourism workshop in July. Nancy Gard McGehee and Stephen Wearing presented at a half-day workshop coordinated by Kevin Lyons at the University of Newcastle. The discussion focused on the host perspective to voluntourism and the embodied volunteer tourist experience.


  • CAUTHE 2010 meeting chaired by Dr Karen Smith at CAUTHE Conference in Hobart, Tasmania.
  • Half-day seminar at UTS in November, Stephen Wearing and Kevin Lyons held a half-day seminar at UTS focussing on Gap year and volunteering. This was attended by prospective gap year participants, their parents, industry representatives and academics.


  • 1st Volunteering and Tourism Symposium in June. The symposium attracted 15 papers and included Professor Bob Stebbins and Stephen Wearing as keynotes.
  • Special (Double) Issue on Volunteering Tourism. This special issue in the Annals of Leisure Research (Vol. 12 Issues 3-4, 2009) included 8 refereed papers, five of which were papers that were developed from the Symposium, and were authored/co-authored by members of the SIG.

Relevant book publications

  • Volunteer Tourism: Theoretical Frameworks and Practical Applications (Routledge). This book includes chapters written by SIG members Stephen Wearing, Simone Grabowski, Anne Zahra and Tracey Dickson.
  • Managing Volunteers in Tourism: attractions, destinations and events by Kirsten Holmes and Karen Smith (Elsevier Butterworth-Heinmann). This book included case studies by SIG members Deborah Edwards, Leonie Lockstone and Tom Baum.