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Tourism and Travel: A Research Guide


One growing area of tourism has come to be known as volunteer tourism  or voluntourism (sometimes referred to as volunteer travel). This combines the traditional aspects of tourism with voluntary service. In some cases, it can be related to sustainable tourism and sometimes to ecotourism. While the concept has been around for many years, it has seen rapid growth in more recent years. One of the earlier reports on this topic that looked at numbers was from 2008 when Tourism Research and Marketing (TRAM) surveyed 300 organizations in their Volunteer Tourism : A Global Analysis. Another way to look at this emerging trend is to understand the impacts of volunteerism, as can be seen in the frequently cited article, "AIDS orphan tourism: A threat to young children in residential care" by Linda M. Richter & Amy Norman (in Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies).

A fair bit of research and discussion in this area is likely to appear in news and trade literature sources so see the Subscription Databases section of this guide for sources for trade related articles. Much of what is written can be very specific with regards to geography or situation. Many of the articles look at the success of the volunteers and not as much at the overall numbers. We have also tried to include resources that provide data and information that will help researchers develop their own market profile. You can use our Doing Industry Research guide for more information on search strategies and using SIC/NAICS codes in industry research specifically with relation to Census data.

Print Resources

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available. Also, see the General Resources section as some of the books included there get into specific areas as part of the larger sector.

Internet Resources

There are websites that aggregate opportunities that can be used by someone looking to understand the types of opportunities and where the opportunities are located that can be helpful in understanding the types and locations of opportunities, we have only included two but there are others though many do charge potential volunteers for placements. This can be helpful for someone wanted to understand "the market" but we have not included them. If you want to explore the opportunities in order to understand them search on the following:

  • "volunteer travel"
  • "volunteer abroad"
  • "voluntourism abroad"
  • "voluntourism opportunities"

Another option is to search on particular situations - particularly on major event or natural disasters.