Profiling volunteer tourists for the benefit of host organisations: The case of a seabird rehabilitation centre in the Western Cape, South Africa

04 Jul 2016

Volunteer tourists have become a critical human resource for many organisations in South Africa. Understanding who the volunteer tourist is as well as how a host organisation benefits from this interaction is imperative for the effective management of this human resource. A review of the current literature showed that most volunteer tourism research studies is volunteertourist-centred and focus on the motivations for participation and the benefits of participation to the volunteer tourist. Within the South African context, only two volunteer tourist profile studies exist and both excluded host organisation factors that indicated how host organisations benefited from hosting volunteer tourists. This paper created a comprehensive profile of volunteer tourists at a non-profit seabird rehabilitation centre in Table View, Western Cape, South Africa. The profile included demographic and motivational factors as well as host organisation specific information that provided valuable information for volunteer management, future marketing and fundraising campaigns. Data were collected through 110 anonymous, self-administered, online questionnaires and from the data, four conclusions were reached. Firstly, the demographic factors of volunteer tourists that participated in this international volunteer programme was similar to other South African based volunteer tourism studies. Secondly, to experience something different and new was the most important motivational factor for volunteer tourists. Thirdly, volunteer tourists derived considerable benefit from the experience. Lastly, volunteer tourists continued to support this non-profit organisation (NPO) through social and financial activities after completing the programme, indicating that a mutually beneficial relationship exists between the host organisation and the volunteer tourist.