Page 1 of 1

Doing Good on Holiday

Volunteering: a popular new travel experience

More and more people are using their holidays to spend time as volunteers. There’s a wide range of projects to participate in, including animal conservation, development aid and countryside improvement schemes. Now, for the first time, Kuoni has brought its broad spectrum of volunteering options together in one dedicated brochure.

Every morning, Thomas cycles to school from his host family’s house. He is currently on holiday in northern Thailand. But he is not going to school to attend a language course, as thousands of travellers do every year in Italy, Spain or England. Other reasons have brought him here to the northern part of this Southeast Asian country. He is on his way to teach English to schoolchildren in the small village Chiang Mai. And in the afternoons he helps to maintain the Pang Soong Nature Trail, an eco-tourism project that brings important income to the village.

Thomas is taking part in a volunteering programme organised by the Track of the Tiger charity. This is one of a large number of organisations around the world that offer interesting and exciting projects for people who are looking for new ways to give greater meaning to their holiday travel. As a social phenomenon these people are growing both in numbers and in relevance, as they seek to find meaning and fulfilment by shouldering responsibility in many different areas of life. For these people, the focus of travel has shifted away from the traditional pursuits of rest and recuperation on the beach, or seeing the cultural sights in classic tourism hotspots. They prefer to spend their vacations furthering good causes by helping other people, conserving nature or defending local traditions which, as globalisation steadily erodes cultural differences, are increasingly at risk of dying out.

Twenty of these volunteering options can now be booked through Kuoni. For some years, Kuoni has offered volunteering projects on a relatively small scale through its ananea programme. However, encouraged by the ever broader sections of the public who seem to be attracted by the idea, the Swiss tour operator has significantly expanded its range of volunteering packages. These are now presented not only in the ananea catalogue but also in a separate, dedicated volunteering brochure. This gives volunteering greater status by treating it as an autonomous segment in its own right, and one which seems to be destined for healthy growth.
Around the world there are already a large number of charitable organisations that offer the general public ways of volunteering. These organisations, which include Earthwatch, Gap- Force, HEPCA, OceanCare and Track of the Tiger, are active on every continent and are dedicated to furthering a wide variety of honourable causes. In fact, there is so much on offer that anyone interested in volunteering might find it hard to see the wood for the trees. To provide guidance, Kuoni has put together a selection that meets the most demanding requirements and caters to the most diverse interests. So, whether you want to get involved in saving threatened natural heritage sites, protecting marine fauna or preserving biodiversity in endangered habitats; or if you’d prefer to spend your holidays teaching English to children in remote regions or putting your back into sustainable agriculture – there is something for everyone. Kuoni spends a lot of time and effort ensuring that it collaborates exclusively with partners whose work is genuinely sustainable and of real benefit to the countries concerned.

Volunteering holidays are a way of satisfying various different requirements simultaneously. For the volunteers themselves they provide a unique opportunity to satisfy their desire to “give something back” while at the same time experiencing a new part of the world, meeting new people in an international context and, by rising to the challenges they encounter, furthering their personal development. For the organisations involved, the support they receive from the volunteers is a welcome and in many cases indispensable contribution towards keeping their projects up and running. In addition, the volunteering packages are an important source of revenues with which to fund their work.

People who want to dedicate their holidays to a good cause can ask Kuoni to organise not just the stay itself but their travel to and from the destination as well. Alternatively, they can take up one of the many opportunities to extend their stint as volunteers by travelling to further destinations. For instance, Thomas has decided that, after his three weeks of hard work in Chiang Mai, he will spend a couple of days relaxing at a beach resort to recover a little before returning home to Switzerland. For him, the volunteering stay was an unforgettable and very valuable experience that he would like to repeat as soon as possible. In fact, he already has a plan in mind: his next holiday will see him heading for the Red Sea, where he will be helping to protect the unique habitat created by the coral reefs.