A utilitarian perspective of volunteer tourism in Africa

04 May 2017

This paper seeks to align ?volunteer tourism? within the philosophical framework of utilitarianism, with an emphasis on Africa. John Stuart Mill, author of the defining book, entitled ?Utilitarianism? asserts that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote human happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness (Mill, 1863). The key commonality between utilitarian theory and volunteer tourism is the premise that both are doctrines that emphasise social reform, and that good or happy consequences matter. Volunteer tourism can be an experience, which ?might involve aiding or alleviating the material poverty of some groups in society, the restoration of certain environments or research into aspects of society or environment? (Wearing, 2011). In other words, it is a voluntary activity, which seeks to achieve good consequences, and furthermore that volunteer tourists have become a critical human resource for achieving ?good? for many organisations in Africa as well as globally. The issue here is to understand volunteer tourism within utilitarian theory. It is contended that an improved theoretical understanding of this niche area in the tourism industry, will be associated with beneficial economic and social consequences. The significance of tourism, including volunteer tourism both economically and socially can be seen by the number of international tourist arrivals in Africa, which has increased to a new record of 56 million, making Africa one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world (Zuma, 2014).