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How do we define Responsible Travel Philanthropy?

Recent debates during the on-line discussions on Responsible Tourism held during the week when the Belize Conference was to have taken places, sadly postponed because of the flu pandemic, have revealed some confusion about what constitutes travel philanthropy and how that relates to Responsible Tourism.

In the USA the Responsible Tourism Movement is being reduced to philanthropy � but on the contrary charitable giving is a tiny part of what is required for Responsible Tourism. The RT focus is much more on how the business does its business and the way the holidaymaker travels and spends their money. In the UK there has been considerable progress in moving away from the narrow focus on philanthropy, a trend evident more broadly in CSR in the UK.

Travel Philanthropy defines charitable and philanthropic behaviour, the donating of money, in-kind resources or time, occasioned by or facilitated by travel. Travel Philanthropy includes donations by travellers and travel companies inbound and outbound where the charitable contribution is occasioned by, but secondary to the primary purposes which are travel or holidaymaking and the commercial operation of travel businesses. In reporting these contributions it is important to distinguish between contributions from travellers or holidaymakers and those made by inbound or outbound operators, whether donated for use in the originating place  or in the destination.

Travel Philanthropy also includes charity fund-raising through, for example challenges and treks, where the travel is primarily motivated by, or justified by, the intention to raise funds for a charitable cause in the originating market or destination. Companies which organise charity challenges should beware of claiming that they have raised the money � they have not, thy have facilitated but not raised the money, they have not made the donation.

Volunteering abroad or away from home, Voluntourism, is also a form of Travel Philanthropy. These forms of charitable activity facilitated through the travel industry, or where the desire for travel is a significant part of the motivation for the charitable activity, raise particular issues. Again it is important to distinguish between the commercial or facilitating activity, and the funding of that, whether by commercial companies, charities and not-for-profits and the charitable contribution, in the destination or in the originating market. Companies, not for profits and charities need to take particular care to report the net contribution � the difference between what is �donated� to the beneficiaries and any costs incurred by recipients. Voluntourism also raises the thorny issue of the real value, the quality and value to the recipient of the donation of time or skills and the costs which the community incurs by hosting volunteers.

For more information on Travel Philanthropy's view on this see

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