General Article Volunteer tourism defies recession but is this positive news for the South?

Topic Selected: Travel and Tourism
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By Kate Lee

Despite reports that the international tourism market has suffered during the downturn, one strand of tourism – the gap year and volunteer tourism market – seems to have flourished. This can partly be attributed to the increase in redundancies, which has prompted more people to take time out to reflect on what to do next and to gain a new perspective on life. Shortage of graduate jobs has also encouraged undergraduates to escape the gloomy outlook at home to gain valuable work experience and to give their CVs a winning edge for when they return. This influx of volunteers to the South, armed with the desire to contribute time, money and skills to a poorer society, is surely a good thing. Or is it?
Volunteering abroad is often seen as a win–win enterprise. Individuals gain enriching life experiences, get to travel to a different country and can add to their CV while making a difference to someone’s life or protecting the environment. Ho

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