Appreciating collaborative conservation using a sustainable livelihoods approach to examining volunteer tourism in Achiote, Panama
Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, CSU and CCC Graduate Fellow
Summary: Volunteer tourism has become a multi-faceted and useful development tool connecting diverse socio-ecological systems from global to local scales. However, collaborative processes among primary stakeholders in volunteer tourism are not well understood, but better understanding these processes is vital to successful, sustainable outcomes of volunteer tourism projects. For this study, I investigate the impacts of volunteer tourism in a rural Panamanian community with experience hosting volunteers. By looking at a current, long-standing collaboration between CSU’s Alternative Break Program, a Panamanian-based NGO, and a locally-based ecotourism group, I explore the interrelationship between volunteer tourism and sustainable livelihoods, with a particular focus on host community perspectives. By giving voices to each member of the partnership, this study aims to provide multi-scale perspectives of collaboration in volunteer tourism and create a dialogue among stakeholders to better identify, implement, and manage projects that maximize benefits of volunteer projects in host communities.
Emily Eddins is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at CSU and part of the third cohort of Center for Collaborative Conservation Fellows. She completed her Master’s degree in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in 2009, and her Bachelor’s in Geography from Miami University (Ohio). Her research interests include international development, sustainable development, ecotourism, and participatory research methods. She has chosen to study volunteer tourism due to its complexity, global significance, and the belief that participatory, collaborative processes can allow tourism to enact social change and environmental conservation.