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Volunteer Tourism: Powerful Programs or Predisposed Participants?

  • Andrew W. Bailey (a1) and Keith C. Russell (a2)


The purpose of this study was to explore the differences in initial status and growth trajectories of college students who did and did not participate in a voluntourism experience. A key objective of the study was to explore the backgrounds of the participants, comparing them to similar nonvoluntourists, to better understand what compelled them to spend their spring break engaged in community service in a distant location. The participants were 617 students at a university in the Midwestern United States, half of whom participated in a voluntour. Voluntourists reported higher levels of yearly civic engagement, civic attitude, openness, compassion, cognitive drive and reflectivity. The developmental disparities evident before the tour continued to grow over the course of five weeks. Implications for marketing, program design and education are discussed within the context of the burgeoning voluntourism industry.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Andrew W. Bailey, Assistant Professor, Recreation, Calvin College, 2347 Jefferson Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507USA. E-mail:


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