Virtuous volunteer tourism: Towards a uniform code of conduct

Faith Ong, Michael Pearlman, Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Brian Edward Melville King

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The expanding body of research on volunteer tourism has generally assessed the merits of these programmes in positive terms, although it has also identified some negative impacts on host communities. In this paper it is proposed that a set of industry-wide guidelines could inform the largely unregulated volunteer tourism market and help it to achieve the right balance between encouraging positive impacts and minimizing negative side effects. A qualitative analysis was conducted of the guiding principles for 12 not-for-profit sending organizations with a view to identifying emergent themes. Ranked from most to least frequent, the themes emanating from the data were: local needs; participant-focused; consideration towards continuity; community; issues; interaction; and organizational goals. The seven themes were then compared with the international standards that have been developed to guide the parent fields of volunteerism and tourism. It was found that six recurring themes could be readily matched against four categories of the Universal Declaration of Volunteering, and against six of the United Nations World Tourism Organization's Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. The findings suggest that the principles applied by sending organizations to their volunteer tourism programmes generally align with the best practice standards prevailing in the broader volunteering and tourism sectors. The paper concludes by proposing an agenda for future research relating to global guidelines for volunteer tourism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-86
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Leisure Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • Codes of conduct
  • Guiding principles
  • Volunteer tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Virtuous volunteer tourism: Towards a uniform code of conduct'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this