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Title: The international volunteer experience in South Africa : an investigation into the impact on the tourist
Author: Alexander, Zoë
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 9439
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Bucks New University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the impact of volunteer tourism on the international tourist engaging in volunteer work in South Africa. A staged methodological design is adopted in this research. The first stage provides conceptual clarification of the term volunteer tourism, using grounded theory. Then a quasi-experimental study was carried out to collect data from volunteer tourists undertaking community and wildlife (including conservation) projects in South Africa. It consists of a standardised web-based personality inventory (IPIP-NEO) completed prior to, post, and one to two years following the volunteer vacation to measure personality changes in 15 core traits. A control group was used to enhance the validity of the scientific method. Thereafter, personal interviews were conducted to gain insight into the volunteering experience and any resulting changes in the volunteers’ day-to-day lives. This study’s findings point to significant changes in seven traits; some of these traits have not been previously identified by the literature and therefore broaden our understanding of the impact on the tourist. Additionally, while confirming some of the changes found in other studies, the findings of this study also point to some significant contrasts. Many of the changes identified were evident in the volunteer’s daily lives through their ‘personal circumstances’, ‘behaviour’, ‘emotions’, ‘confidence’, ‘values’, ‘knowledge or skills’ and ‘attitudes’. The experiences which the volunteers attributed to their changes were: active, involved, responsible, participatory, immersive and interactive, and whether they met volunteers’ expectations; influenced by: age, gender, project type and length of stay. The findings address a number of shortcomings in the volunteer tourism literature by providing statistical evidence of change; a better understanding of how change appears in participants’ everyday lives; and identifies some additional elements that influence change in the visitor, adding to knowledge of Engagement Theory. These findings can therefore contribute theoretically; and practically to tourism marketing, program design and volunteer satisfaction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Buckinghamshire New University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Volunteer tourism ; Tourism ; South Africa ; Volunteer behaviour ; Personality inventory ; IPIP-NEO