McIntosh, A. & Zahra, A. (2007). A cultural encounter through volunteer tourism: Towards the ideals of sustainable tourism? Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 15(5), 541-556.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/1900
International volunteering is increasingly recognised as a form of alternative tourism. However, the nature of the ‘alternative’ experience gained, and the ensuing narrative between host and volunteer, remains under-explored in published research, especially in volunteer tourism research within a cultural context in a developed nation. This paper examines the nexus between volunteer tourism and cultural tourism in the search for alternative and sustainable experiences through tourism. Qualitative research using in-depth interviews, diaries and participant observation was conducted to examine the pre-, during and post-trip experiences of 12 Australian visitors undertaking organised volunteer activities in an indigenous Maori community in the North Island of New Zealand during January 2005. Members of the indigenous Maori community were also interviewed to provide an important host perspective. Findings suggest that the nature of the interaction and cultural experiences gained were perceived as mutually beneficial and seemingly different from those gained from traditional cultural products. In particular, the volunteers experienced an alternative Maori cultural product and engaged in a different narrative with their Maori hosts through their volunteer work, one rich in authentic cultural content, genuine and reflective of modern Maori life in New Zealand society.
Channel View Publications
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