CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Since the latter 1990s a British and North American travel business model developed offering so-called “humanitarian” volunteering vacations. These companies target an especially young and well-off clientele that wants to “do humanitarian work” but may lack the skills required to work for an NGO. Our study of French “humanitarian tourists” shows that although they have high expectations of the experience, they are often disappointed that they do not do what they consider “real” humanitarian work ; the humanitarian goal is gradually lost over the trip and volunteers devote themselves to more ordinary tourist activities. But they will benefit from the humanitarian label, which upon their return can be turned to their advantage on the educational and professional markets and in their personal identity. Humanitarian work that is paid for financially thus morphs into humanitarian work that pays off sociologically.

Alizée Delpierre
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