Challenges and opportunities of voluntourism conservation projects in Peru's Madre de Dios region

Alejandrina R. Ocañas, Jennifer M. Thomsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The voluntourism industry has grown and diversified significantly over the past two decades. Scientific attention to voluntourism has focused on voluntourist motivations and outcomes while research on the perceived outcomes and sustainability of voluntourism is sparse. As voluntourism programs increase, it is critical to understand the environmental, economic, social-cultural, and collaborative dimensions that influence outcomes and overall sustainability of voluntourism. This study investigates how voluntourism conservation projects (VCPs) in the Madre de Dios region of Peru interpret their outcomes and the key dimension of sustainable tourism that influence VCPs achieving their outcomes. Through 35 in-person interviews with leaders of 13 VCPs and other local stakeholders, findings suggest that VCPs have diverse social, ecological, and economic outcomes and a VCP's ability to achieve goals of voluntourism and act effectively as a conservation entity can be stifled by limited financial resources, low staff capacity, and pressure to fulfill voluntourist expectations. Results also reveal unique stakeholder relationships, competition among VCPs, and the need to strengthen local engagement. The study provides insights for key dimensions of assessing voluntourism outcomes and enhancing the sustainability of voluntourism initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101046
JournalTourism Management Perspectives
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Conservation
  • Ecotourism
  • Peruvian Amazon
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Voluntourism


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