I have watched a couple of episode of the UK Channel 4’s Holiday Hijack TV show, which takes participants from their luxury resort, most recently in the Maldives, and “hijacks” them to live with a local family, gain insights into their lives, as well as learn about the negative effects of tourism.
The participants seem naive in the extreme, but still look genuinely transformed at the end of their time with the family, and have their attitudes, and hopefully their future vacation choices, impacted.
Home-stays are a powerful way to enable us to have meaningful interaction with the locals, who are the ‘hidden treasures’ of any destination; voluntourism has a similar outcome in terms of understanding how other people live, with the added bonus of having made a difference in their lives.
Naturally the two can be combined, which can be doubly wonderful, and for those who want to retain their creature comforts and make a difference in peoples’ lives, then luxury voluntourism may be just what you are looking for.
Good on Channel 4 for portraying a different way of travelling, and for identifying ways that tourism can do harm, and highlighting ways that it doesn’t have to.