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Title: The 'must-have' tourist experience : an exploration of the motivations, expectations, experience and outcomes of volunteer tourists in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Author: Reas, Penelope Jane
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2013
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Using consumerism as a lens, this qualitative study examines volunteering vacations with ‘poor’ children in Siem Reap, Cambodia by considering just what is being consumed in these popular tourist choices alongside those factors in contemporary ‘First World’ society that allow and encourage their consumption. Through the use of caring mantras such as ‘change lives forever’ and ‘make a world of difference’, vacation providers of what are considered to be a mass-niche product in the competitive global tourism marketplace, offer Siem Reap to potential consumers as one choice from an increasing range of ‘Third World’ destinations. However, using the concepts of commodification and objectification, I argue that it is the bodies of children that have become the commodities in these vacations, their lives and circumstances objectified as needy and available, in part to fulfil the vacation fantasies of holidaymakers who choose to use consumerism as both a vehicle for the enactment of their compassion, as well as the means by which to satisfy their own search for pleasure and reward. Furthermore, I also argue that privilege - often justified and taken-for-granted as a tool in the good-deed vacation tool-kit - works to obscure significant issues such as race, colonial continuities, global injustice and potential abuse. Through critically engaging volunteer tourism as commodity and consumption I have reframed the often asked questions around these vacations in order to offer a different commentary and perspective to these experiences. The research takes a longitudinal view of volunteer tourism in Siem Reap through the use of semi-structured interviews with potential and past consumers as well as interviews with and observations of vacationers in situ ‘doing volunteering’. An exploration of the grey literature from both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, as well as photographs, add to the arguments presented here.
Supervisor: Emmel, Nick ; Tzanelli, Rodanthi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available