Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Experiences of Voluntourism in Guangzhou, Mainland China

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posted on 2021-11-14, 11:45 authored by McDowall, Kirk James

Volunteer tourism is a relatively new field that usually involves a young person volunteering in a foreign country to improve the social conditions of a local community. In the past decade, there has been an academic focus on this topic that suggests there are potential benefits for the participants involved. However, critical analyses from a post-development perspective have recently highlighted the number of risks involved with these projects. The findings from these studies also emphasis the underlying goals of voluntourism, which can include creating a connection and understanding between the people involved in these projects, in addition to the projects being viewed as significant by the participants. This thesis will test if the experiences of voluntourists in a selected voluntourism project in Guangzhou, Mainland China relate to this goal. The results revealed that the project was considered significant by the participants involved as a result of recognising the importance of place to all participants, the identity of the foreign volunteer and how they relate to place and the members of that place. The recommendations from the academic literature can also lead to a long term connection and greater understanding between the people involved, by making comparisons with the process of integration. Through these findings, it can argued the experiences from the voluntourism project in Mainland China relates to the underlying goals of voluntourism, and a new body of knowledge is emerging in this field, which emphasises ways to improve the implementation of these projects.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Overton, John