Volunteer tourism could be akin to neo-colonialism, according to the liberal UK think Demos.
The think tank points the recent rise of people going overseas to do development work as giving rise to neo-colonialism because volunteers often go overseas with a mindset that they can save everyone’s problems and not know anything about the culture they will be engaging in, the ABC reported.
However, Daniela Papi, head of Cambodian educational travel company, PEPY tours, said that volunteer tourism is essential to help build up societies and economies.
“Sending especially young people abroad is important for peace in the future, for global understanding for cultural awareness,” Ms Papi said.
The head of a group of lay missionaries, PALMS Group, Roger O’Halloran said that volunteer tourism is only about the experience of the volunteer.
“It has the pretence of helping someone, and I don't buy it”.
That is not the message on the ground though if Jackson Fitzpatrick’s experience is anything to go by.
Fitzpatrick volunteered in local indigenous communities following high school and loved it so much that he plans to live in the Northern Territory following tertiary studies.