Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure


Business and Law

First Advisor

Dr Maria Ryan

Second Advisor

Dr Greg Wilson


The number of research projects (theses and non-theses) on volunteer tourism (VT) has increased significantly over the last twelve years. However, few studies have measured an individual’s intention and stage of readiness to be involved in VT. The main purpose of this thesis is to develop a model to predict intention and stage of readiness to be involved in volunteer tourism by applying variables, including attitudes towards the concept of volunteer tourism (VT), subjective norms, altruistic lifestyle values, the sensation-seeking personality, social class, taking/receiving motivation, giving motivation, past experience in tourism, past experience in volunteering, past experience in VT, perceived and factual constraints.

This study was conducted using a sequential mixed methods approach. A qualitative approach was utilised in the first stage. Qualitative data were gathered via focus groups (15 participants), in-depth interviews (15 participants), and email interviews (three participants) which were conducted in Perth, Western Australia. The participants selected were those who had experience as a volunteer tourist and/or as an international volunteer. The data were analysed using NVivo (Welsh, 2002a) version 10. The second stage consisted of a quantitative study and collected data via an online survey. This survey attracted 542 participants with a range of experience in VT. The participants mainly resided in Australia. Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) (Allen & Bennett, 2010; Blunch, 2008; Coakes, Steed, & Ong, 2010; Pallant, 2010) for the exploratory factor analysis and AMOS (Analysis of Moment Structures) for confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling (Blunch, 2008; Byrne, 2001; Hair Jr., Black, Babin, Anderson, & Tatham, 2006; Holmes-Smith, 2010).

As a result of reviewing the literature on VT (Broad & Jenkins, 2008; Hobbs, 2007; K. D. Lyons & Wearing, 2012; E. Raymond, 2008; Tourism Research and Marketing, 2008; Wearing, 2001) and the findings of both the qualitative and quantitative studies, volunteer tourism was conceptualised as the intersection of volunteer and tourism concepts and a combination of volunteer and tourism activities in a travel destination (nationally or internationally). This requires motivated participants to volunteer for a day or more and pay their own costs, for instance, for transport, accommodation, meals, and in some instances financially contribute to the project (these could include humanitarian, education, health, construction, religion, and conservation projects) itself, through a sender or host organisation.

In the qualitative study, it was found that people engaged in VT for a variety of reasons and had varied VT experiences. A key factor with participants was the importance of word of mouth influences in inspiring and encouraging their involvement in VT. This was found to be a powerful motivator. Broadly the experiences ranged from religious, to embracing the environment, to adventure seeking, to being free and genuinely altruistic motivations. Constraints to be involved in VT came from participants with more limited VT experience and included time, money, distance and language difficulties. These findings were applied in developing the research instrument by adding, confirming, and modifying the information taken from the literature review in tourism, volunteerism, and VT.

In the quantitative study, modifications were made to the initial conceptual framework proposed, for example, by dividing the motivation variable into ‘taking/receiving motivation’ and ‘giving motivation’ to ensure that drivers of each type of motivation were explored. Using a structural equation model, the relationship between these two different types of motivation and their impact on intention was examined.

To measure individuals’ intentions and stage of readiness to be involved in VT, six models were developed, each individually testing a research question. A key driver for predicting intention to engage in VT was the ‘giving motivation’; this included the need to give back to the community and a concern for the environment. In addition, a group of other key drivers included attitudes, subjective norms, ‘taking/receiving motivation’ and a sensation-seeking personality. These findings both added to and consolidated exiting literature on the intention to engage in VT. Findings indicated a strengthening of intention as time increased (from 1 to 3 to 5 years) along with different drivers impacting the decision at different time intervals. This information is critical to marketers and social marketers of VT so as to effectively communicate with potential volunteer tourists with time appropriate messages.

Further, this study of individuals’ intention and stage of readiness to be involved in VT is significant to tourism, volunteerism, and VT knowledge, obviously seen from the qualitative study. Individuals might be easy to be just a tourist, travel to a city or country for any purpose. However, to add volunteering activity, such as working in a community or orphanage, in the destination might attract only certain people. Most participants needed a proper and long preparation before they were really involved in VT. For non-volunteer tourists, some disagreed to the concept of VT and some others even though they agreed to the concept, they considered later in their lives if they wanted to be involved in VT. The findings indicate that VT is still an alternative, niche, and special tourism product as VT requires a high involvement from each participant.