New travel trend: Volunteer tourism
Travel has many purposes – to de-stress, re-bond or simply explore and experience something new. The quest for a fulfilling experience, however, has pushed some to make their holidays more meaningful by volunteering for some social service at their destinations. Volunteer tourism, although still a new concept in India, is catching on among travellers here, just like among their counterparts in the west.
Ranjitha Menon, a Kochi-based gynaecologist, and her husband, also a doctor, for instance, recently took a vacation to northeastern India where they decided to volunteer in a health camp organised by a doctors’ association in a village in Assam.
“For us, visiting the northeast and volunteering in a health camp to help those who desperately needed assistance was a perfect amalgamation that can be termed a fulfilling experience. By being in such close proximity with the locals we didn’t just see the beauty of Assam but could also understand the culture and tradition of the place that no guide could have explained,” Ranjitha said.
Being a niche field, it’s difficult to put an exact number on the number of people who opt for volunteer tourism; yet according to Saurabh Sabharwal, founder of Go Discover Abroad, a travel portal, it receives requests from 400-500 people – both Indians and foreigners – for volunteer tourism in India every year.
“Delhi and Palampur are the most popular destinations with volunteer travellers, and they are mostly looking forward to doing work in childcare, community development, and health work, apart from exploring the place,” Sabharwal told IANS.
The cost of a package, which includes all the frills of travel and stay, along with getting in touch with organisations for voluntary work, can range from Rs.28,500 ($450) a week to Rs.6,300 ($100) for every extra week, Sabharwal added.
Sharat Dhall, president of travel portal yatra.com, said that most foreigners opting for volunteer tourism have long-stay plans in India. “Though it’s difficult to put a number to those travelling for volunteer tourism, as and when we get to speak to customers we understand that travellers visiting India for longer hauls do have voluntary work as a part of their travel agenda”.
Click here to read more.