ABTA has launched the industry’s first comprehensive Volunteer Tourism Guidelines, designed to help travel businesses understand the issues and challenges involved, and work towards best practice in the programmes they offer.

The guidelines have been developed in consultation with a wide range of organisations, including international travel industry and membership organisations, NGOs, charities, leading academics, inter-governmental organisations and tour operators working in the volunteer tourism sector.

The guidelines aim to tackle bad practice and improve volunteer tourism standards throughout the travel industry.

Volunteer tourism is a relatively new concept and has grown rapidly in recent years with more than 800 organisations worldwide now offering volunteer tourism experiences, and 1.6 million trips made per year.

While often seen as a gap year activity between school and university, this only accounts for a third of all volunteering trips.

The association's Volunteer Tourism Guidelines build on the wide range of existing guidance, with the aim of encouraging businesses to achieve high standards in the volunteering experiences they offer, resulting in positive impacts for target beneficiaries and ensuring that customers have a safe and enriching life experience.

Members are encouraged to use the guidelines to assess whether the experiences they currently offer pose any risk and what they can do to work towards best practice. T

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