More standards for responsible volunteer tourism

The Responsible Tourism Partnership have posted some professional ethics for responsible volunteering on their website. There are just two signatories who have signed up to these ethics so far, but I am assuming other organisations can sign up.  While I think these are a very admirable, thorough, worthwhile set of ethics, I also wonder how realistic they are for some organisations to achieve.  For example, not all organisations have the capacity for interviewing and screening prospective volunteers, especially if smaller, locally based organisations who are don’t have staff in the same countries that volunteers are from.

Also, providing “full and accurate information about the project and their placement” can be challenging with projects in developing countries where the needs of communities and people involved can change. The VSO approach to this is to ensure volunteers are prepared for change and can deal with a lack of detailed, specific information as this is the reality of volunteering in developing countries. It was not usually possible to give volunteers detailed information about what they would be doing.

The Responsible Tourism Partnership ethics also link to the campaign to highlight irresponsible volunteering projects and for volunteers to take ownership of reporting organisations who have mis-sold volunteering experiences.

It is also interesting to look at these in comparison to Fair Trade Volunteering and the Tourism Concern Gap Year and International Volunteering Standard.


About natashastein

I'm interested in travel, learning about other countries and cultures, responsible tourism, environmental issues and wildlife. I like being outdoors and beautiful scenery can really move me and reinvigorate me. I enjoy walking and am planning to get a rescue dog to keep me company on my strolls. I also love to write stuff. I've set up my own website (, written blogs on topics I'm interested in and written various articles about volunteering overseas. I've always enjoyed writing in my previous jobs. I'm a bit of a creative all rounder - I can draw and make things. It's something I'd like to do more of! I love art and photography and go to exhibitions when I can. I am currently teaching English as a second language in Worcestershire, where I live. I have an eclectic career story. My professional background is in travel and tourism and the charity sector. I have worked for a major holiday company, specialist tour operator and coordinated a University alumni travel programme. Most recently I've worked for a Destination Management Organisation and local government tourism department focusing on promoting the Cotswolds primarily via social media. I also worked for VSO, the international development volunteering charity for 6 years as a Volunteer and Placement Adviser and have done bits and bobs of volunteering with different charities.
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