In 2009, President Obama gave an historic speech in Cairo, where he expressed his vision to create a new beginning with Muslim communities around the world, based on mutual respect and interests. Out of this, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt has implemented a series of activities called the “Cairo Initiative.”
Tourism, specifically volunteer tourism, often serves as a catalyst for public diplomacy. Recently, Kristin Lamoureux, director of GWSB’s International Institute of Tourism Studies and visiting assistant professor of tourism studies in the Department of Tourism & Hospitality Management, was invited to help support an initiative aimed at business, academic and leisure travelers who want to make a difference when they visit Egypt.
At the invitation of the cultural affairs office of the Embassy of Egypt, Lamoureux served as an expert adviser to the initiative to promote volunteer tourism in Egypt. The event, held Oct. 29 – Nov. 5, addressed public diplomacy, entrepreneurship, and poverty alleviation. It culminated with a public launch of an initiative to support volunteer tourism in Egypt. Approximately 50 people attended, including U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey, Egyptian Minister of Tourism Mohamed Zoheir Garranah, representatives of the Egypt Junior Business Association and leading Egyptian tourism companies.
Lamoureux urged a broader understanding of the definition of volunteer tourism. “It’s not just a couple days spent during a vacation. Professors doing research, students studying abroad and business people can all be a part of the volunteer tourism sector,” she said. “One of the best ways to promote better understanding and progress is at the individual-to-individual level.”
Volunteer tourism is one of the fastest growing niches in the tourism industry, and holds a lot of value as a sector. A recent study shows that more than 55 percent of travelers want to incorporate volunteering into their vacations. Furthermore, volunteer tourism is much more than a quick, feel good fix. It is good for business, Lamoureux said.
While in Egypt, Lamoureux met with several corporate social responsibility initiatives, micro-lending and entrepreneur development entities as well as nonprofit organizations focused on education, health and environmental conservation that are incorporating some form of volunteer tourism into their activities.
Lamoureux also met with nonprofit organizations, businesses, tourism companies and government officials in Cairo, the Red Sea region and Aswan to discuss ways of supporting business, academic and leisure travelers volunteering in Egypt.
The Embassy of Egypt, U.S. Department of Commerce and USAID supported this initiative and are discussing next steps toward promoting volunteer tourism in Egypt.
Posted by gwsb on November 18, 2010 | Filed under: GWSB News.