Research Corner

Since we have received a lot of requests for support in academic research, we decided to publish some of the results to support fellow scholars.  If you want to support other researchers as well and would like to have your work published here, feel free to submit it to us!


Orphanage Tourism

Does Responsible Volunteering In Cambodian Orphanages Exist?

Master Thesis by Alexandra Fahl

Volunteer Tourism has become a growing trend within the past decades. Hereby, the tourist contributes a time of her/his holiday to volunteer, often with the intention ‘to give something back’. A popular form of volunteering which has emerged is working at an orphanage.

The aim of this study was to identify responsible and irresponsible volunteer practices in Cambodian orphanages in order to make practical recommendations and consider whether this form of volunteering can be continued responsibly or not.

Dynamics Of International Volunteers In Orphanage Tourism

Master Thesis by Shiron Jacobs

Many international volunteers want to work with children during their volunteer work. This trend led to the phenomenon of orphanage tourism, which involves tourists visiting or volunteering in an orphanage. This form of tourism has received much criticism over the years, as it appears that orphanage tourism can have many negative impacts. Orphanage tourism causes children being separated from their parents and as a result, the majority of children in orphanages are not actually orphans. Growing up in an orphanage and interacting with many different volunteers can also have negative impacts on the emotional and social development of the children. The country that received most media-attention regarding orphanage tourism and where this form of tourism is very visible, is Cambodia.
The aim of this research is to gain more insight in the dynamics of international volunteers in orphanage tourism in Cambodia.

Tour Operators

Volunteer tourism: a critical explorative analysis from the tour operators’ perspective

Master Thesis by Lydia Anna Bremen

Volunteer tourism, a popular phenomenon in the tourism industry has lately been criticized whether it does more harm than good. The majority of the research that has been conducted, place a specific focus on the volunteers themselves rather than the commercialized organizations behind volunteer tourism. It seems that the volunteers are blamed for the negative impacts on volunteer tourism. However, it has to be assumed that tour operators play an important role in these changes within volunteer tourism. Therefore this study will engage explorative research on the tour operators’ perspectives regarding volunteer tourism. The studied tour operators are based in Sweden, the Netherlands, the USA, and Great Britain. In which these tour operators are all very similar in their volunteer tourism packages. This study touches on a new perspective of volunteer tourism that has not been researched by scholars. The main purpose of this research is to encounter the underlying motivations of tour operators. The research at hand also aims at discovering the tour operators’ importance and how they influence the negative impacts of volunteer tourism. Tour operators are the connection to both the demand and supply side of volunteer tourism, therefore, have a very strong and solid position to improve volunteer tourism and avoid negative impacts. [
] The expected outcome of the research is to identify critical factors of the sustainable success of volunteer tourism.

Child Protection

The importance of child protection in Volunteer Tourism – a gap analysis for risk identification and derivation of recommendation for action

Bachelor Thesis by Friederike Hertwig

The hype of volunteering in foreign countries and indicating social commitment has been growing over the past decade. As volunteer tourism only developed towards an increased demand in recent years, the research is still not sophisticated. Hence, many key researchers of volunteer tourism have raised their voices for more critical analysis for impacts on local communities.
In the tourism sector but also in other businesses, suppliers have introduced corporate responsibility as a management tool in order to consider all stakeholders and minimize negative impacts. Similarly, in volunteer tourism, the providers need to find a way to protect the rights of local communities and especially their children. Children are particular vulnerable as they are still in the phase of development. The demand for volunteer tourism with children has increased and many children in developing countries are put at risk. Volunteer tourism claims to help children and contributes to positive development work.
Yet, recent trends have moved towards a profit-driven industry, focusing less on children’s needs. Due to the life-long and severe consequences on children’s development and the increasing demand for volunteer tourism, the need for an implementation of regulations and standards to prevent negative impacts for children is constantly increasing.


Analyse der Standardisierung von Voluntourismus an ausgewÀhlten Benchmarks

Bachelor Thesis by Christina Feser



Voluntourism, othering and commodification: a case study in St Lucia and surrounding communities, South Africa

Master Thesis by Tessa Speijer

In this master thesis, you will find out why I removed my volunteer experience in Indonesia from my CV. Why was I uncomfortable having it on my CV as a critical International Development master student?

This thesis studies the host-guest interaction within voluntourism in St Lucia, South Africa. I did three months of fieldwork in South Africa, where I participated as a volunteer. The goal of my thesis was to find out what kind of influence voluntourism has on the local community and how they perceive each other. I discovered that volunteers often had a ‘poor but happy’ interpretation of the host community, while the host community often perceived the volunteers as actual doctors. I propose that voluntourism is a highly marketable commodity because it combines the moral achievement of ‘making a difference’ with the emotional reward of close encounters with the host community. If I would go volunteering in Indonesia again? I don’t think so, at least not with that organization. Please do your research before signing up at an organization, talk with former volunteers and ask as many questions as you can.

Volunteer-Tourismus als Instrument einer nachhaltigen Tourismusentwicklung in EntwicklungslÀndern

Bachelor Thesis by Marlin Hundertmark

Quality Issues

Kommerzialisierung im Volunteer-Tourismus – Die Rolle und Umsetzung von QualitĂ€tsstandard

Bachelor Thesis by Jennifer Obanla

This thesis deals with the current commercialization of volunteer tourism and the role and realization of quality standards facing the growing criticism regarding short-term and flexible forms of volunteering abroad. The goal is to analyze existing concepts of quality assurance in volunteer tourism, to identify essential criteria for good practice and to examine their fulfillment within the practices of German tour operators.

Volunteer Tourism – Who does it benefit?

Bachelor Thesis by Isabel Anderzén Domingues and Pernilla Nöjd

The purpose with this study is to examine (1) how altruism and egoism act as motivating factors for individuals to practice volunteer tourism; (2) how the volunteer, both as a tourist and as a worker, gains benefits from their experience and (3), from the perspective of the volunteer tourist, how their presence affects the community.

Although altruism is known to be a typical volunteer-trait, our respondents were motivated more or less by self-interest as well, adding to the discussion regarding whether altruism or self-interest is the main motivator for volunteer tourists. Second, the outcome of the volunteer experience is not necessarily as dependent on the motives as it is on what the volunteer makes of it. Third, the rewards mainly derived from the free time and the relationships developed between volunteers, and the costs mainly from the projects due to social distance. Forth, the low level of commitment among volunteers leads us to question if it should be considered as a form of pro-poor tourism. Fifth, communication is of great importance in order to achieve cultural interaction, a vital component of volunteer tourism and finally, we found that volunteer tourism can indeed be beneficial, as long as organizations focus on the “right kind” of projects.

The Volunteer

Volunteer Tourismus- Eine anthropologische Analyse

Diplomarbeit von Leonore Stiglechner

Seit Beginn der Kritik am Massentourismus in den 1960er Jahren wird nach immer neuen Formen des Reisens gesucht. Eine von ihnen ist der „Volunteer Tourismus“, eine Form des Tourismus, die in den letzten Jahren einen großen Boom erlebte. Manche meinen sogar, sie sei die am schnellsten wachsende Form des Alternativtourismus: Das Augenmerk liegt dabei hauptsĂ€chlich auf den Volunteer TouristInnen selbst. Unter Volunteer TouristInnen werden jene Menschen verstanden, die in anderen LĂ€ndern fĂŒr eine begrenzte Dauer unentgeltlich arbeiten. Die TĂ€tigkeiten finden in den meisten FĂ€llen in sozialen oder ökologischen Projekten statt und sind oft Teil einer grĂ¶ĂŸeren Reise.
In den letzten Jahren wuchs die Zahl der Organisationen, bei denen Volunteer TouristInnen tÀtig sind, rasant. Waren es noch vor wenigen Jahren vorwiegend kirchliche Organisationen und NGOs, so steigt die Zahl kommerzieller Organisationen zunehmend.
Seit dem Jahr 2008 fördert „WeltwĂ€rts“, der entwicklungspolitische Freiwilligendienst des Bundesministeriums fĂŒr wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung in Deutschland, junge Menschen, die im Ausland volunteern wollen, mit jĂ€hrlich insgesamt 70 Millionen Euro an entwicklungspolitischen Geldern. Kaum ein Beispiel zeigt so gut wie “WeltwĂ€rts“ die wachsende gesellschaftliche Akzeptanz und die damit einhergehende mediale Aufmerksamkeit dieses PhĂ€nomens. Seit einigen Jahren findet der Volunteer Tourismus auch vermehrt wissenschaftliche Beachtung.

Sustainable Development

Volunteer-Tourismus Instrument einer nachhaltigen Tourismusentwicklung in SĂŒdafrika?

Diplomarbeit von Nikola Schiekel

Seit ĂŒber 20 Jahren liegt ein wesentlicher Fokus der Tourismusforschung in der Entwicklung von Strategien, die sich mit dem Beitrag des Tourismus zu einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung in den LĂ€ndern der Dritten Welt befassen. Kritische AufklĂ€rungsarbeit ĂŒber den Ferntourismus hat ein Bewusstsein fĂŒr soziale Ungleichgewichte, Konflikte und UmweltschĂ€den in den touristischen Zielgebieten in den EntsendelĂ€ndern geschaffen.
Das Untersuchungsfeld dieser Arbeit ist der Tourismus und die Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, wobei der Schwerpunkt auf neueren nachhaltigen Tourismusformen liegt. Das Konzept des New Tourism bezieht sich auf beobachtete Wandlungen im internationalen Tourismus, nĂ€mlich der Entfernung des Konsumenten vom Massentourismus und wird als ein „element of Post-Fordist consumption patterns“ interpretiert. Der „neue“ Tourist wird als ein „erfahrener“ Reisender bezeichnet, mit einem Bewusstsein fĂŒr die vom Massentourismus hervorgerufenen Probleme. Ziel dieser Arbeit ist es, anhand eines ausgewĂ€hlten Beispiels herauszustellen, ob diese Form des New Tourism in der Praxis das leisten kann, was die Theorie verspricht und welche Möglichkeiten bestehen, derartige Projekte effizienter zu gestalten. [
] Es wird untersucht, ob der Volunteer-Tourismus eine konstruktive Antwort auf vorherrschende Probleme des jeweiligen Landes bieten kann und dazu in der Lage ist, einen positiven Beitrag zur Entwicklung benachteiligter Bevölkerungsteile in LĂ€ndern der Dritten Welt zu leisten. FĂŒr die vorliegende Arbeit wird ein Projekt des Volunteer-Tourismus in der Republik SĂŒdafrika als Fallbeispiel gewĂ€hlt. In der Sparte des EntwicklungslĂ€nder-Tourismus ist SĂŒdafrika eine der bedeutendsten Destinationen. Durch den Ausbau des  Volunteer Tourismusbereiches erhofft sich die sĂŒdafrikanische Regierung einen Ausgleich der sozialen und regionalen DisparitĂ€ten. Dabei kommen unter anderem nachhaltig wirksame Tourismuskonzepte sowie innovative tourismuspolitische Strategien zum Einsatz. Trotz vorbildlicher Richtlinien zur Tourismusentwicklung seitens der sĂŒdafrikanischen Regierung, herrscht enormer Handlungsbedarf bei der praktischen Umsetzung. Im Mittelpunkt der vorliegenden Arbeit steht das Konzept des Volunteer-Tourismus als eine Strategie, benachteiligte Bevölkerungsgruppen in Tourismusprojekte einzubinden, um somit einen Beitrag zur ArmutsbekĂ€mpfung zu leisten und den Ausgleich von DisparitĂ€ten in EntwicklungslĂ€ndern zu ermöglichen. [

Die Ergebnisse der Untersuchung werden dazu herangezogen, StĂ€rken und SchwĂ€chen des ausgewĂ€hlten Projektes und des Voluntee-Tourismus im Allgemeinen zu formulieren und anschließend in konkrete Handlungsempfehlungen umgesetzt.