"Voluntourism" as the industry calls it is on the rise. Already three percent of U.S. travelers, nearly 3.5 million people, donate their time on vacation. Travelocity's 2007 poll discovered another 35% plan to jump on that bandwagon this year. And Lonely Planet just released its first volunteer-travel guidebook, just as CheapTickets unveiled an online booking engine and a volunteer savings program.
The trend attracts its share of skeptics. Travel e-zine World Hum recently asked: "Voluntourism: 'overpriced guilt trips' or a 'real chance to save the world'?"
But here on Orcas Island, the trail crew is all smiles except when confronted with a stubborn chunk of shale. Soon Guidotti and Ranger Reuben Stuart have it lassoed and tied to the trailer hitch of the park's one-ton pick-up. The engine guns and the garbage-can-sized boulder lurches downslope and wedges between two trees.
This is real work. Not some "green-washed" publicity exercise. Volunteers completed 85-90% of the labor on this trail spur.
Read the whole article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer... But enjoy the cover and headline goodness here, since for reasons inscrutable the P-I's web team insists on running the third subdeck as the title online and omitting a bunch of the photos. Pity.