Stakeholder perceptions of volunteer tourism community impact

Jessica Aquino, Kathleen L. Andereck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to examine volunteer tourism (VT) experiences of three stakeholder groups in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The guiding research question is: how does VT influence marginalized communities from the perspectives of different stakeholders? This study was developed to address a need for further research that critically looks at the social impacts of VT in vulnerable communities and analyze the nature of VT by reviewing concepts related to sustainable tourism and social representation theory (SRT). Design/methodology/approach: Using a phenomenological approach, this study is founded on SRT to understand the lived experiences of VT and the perceptions of its impacts on favela (slum) communities. This paper describes and interprets these meanings with a high degree of depth and richness using interviews, observation and document analysis. The experiences of community residents, voluntourists and non-governmental organization (NGO) staff are considered. Findings: Study findings indicate that the different groups expressed several benefits and obstacles to VT. Voluntourists had a difficult time interpreting what influences VT has in general for the community focusing more inwardly on their personal experiences. Community residents experienced VT differently than the other groups. They identified the most benefits from VT and felt that they had the ability to create representations of themselves and of their community overall. NGOs expressed positive aspects of VT such as more community participation but noted concerns with voluntourists’ commitment. Originality/value: This study is one of few to consider and compare the VT perceptions of three different stakeholder groups in vulnerable communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-576
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Tourism Cities
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 30 2024


  • Impacts
  • NGOs
  • Residents
  • Social representations theory
  • Volunteer tourism
  • Volunteers
  • Vulnerable communities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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