The influence of volunteer tourism in decision making and daily functioning of child and youth care centres in Port Shepstone, KZN.
Tshazi, Ayanda Phumla.
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ABSTRACT Volunteer tourism is the fastest growing segment of tourism in South Africa. It mainly comprises of travellers from first world countries seeking to do voluntary work in destination countries as part of their experience. Volunteering at child and youth care centres (CYCCs) where children are placed is a popular form of volunteer tourism. This study concerned itself with the power relations between volunteer tourists and the workers at CYCCs who must protect the rights and interests of children whilst negotiating the expectations of volunteers who are seen as benefactors. A qualitative research was conducted by means of in-depth interviews and group discussions with participants selected through purposive sampling. Findings confirmed that CYCCs are governed through governance practices, where their programmes and decisions are significantly influenced by volunteer tourists and their interests. Permanent workers’ ability to protect the interests of children in their care is undermined by the presence of volunteers who must be treated with deference and given preference in decisions taken by management. As such, the contributions made by visitors at CYCCs rob locals of their agency in running their institutions for best outcomes for their children and creates dependency on outsiders thus perpetuating volunteer tourism in CYCCs. The study concludes that volunteer tourism practices at CYCCs erode the authority of workers and their ability to protect the children in their care. The study recommends that decision-making authority must be reserved only for permanent staff and none given to volunteer tourists and that rules governing the centres must be standardised across the CYCC sector; and all staff empowered to implement the rules. It is also recommended that government strengthen legislation to eliminate volunteer tourism at CYCCs and for the centres to open themselves up to collaboration with local communities where they require additional capacity.