Philanthropic tourism or travel is defined as “a journey that offers an opportunity for travelers to engage with, learn from and be a partner to people and programs committed to positive change in their communities,” according to

Essentially, philanthropic tourism ensures “travel can be a force for good,” as described by

More than simply volunteering, philanthropic tourism allows participants “to consider the context and challenges involved in ‘development work’ to allow participants to make informed philanthropic decisions,” states

Proper due diligence for philanthropic tourism includes the following, according to GoPhilanthropic Travel:

  • Identification of authentic programs through time and experience
  • Careful management of onsite visitation, including managing the frequency of visits, protecting the privacy of those visited and learning about the background of the program (not centering the visit on offering material things)
  • Supporting what programs want for themselves, with ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contributions

“Philanthropic tourism is a little akin to a church’s mission trip, but the people who go on a philanthropic trip have a five-star opportunity and experience,” explains Mike Brock, executive director of Hoʻohui Hawaiʻi, a local organization that convenes entities around causes in the community to develop actionable solutions. Hoʻohui Hawaiʻi has been one of the voices collaborating with public and private organizations and applying localized, research-backed ideas to solve to the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Hawaiʻi.

“Often privilege will blind people from society’s problems. Through philanthropic tourism, people of means can take a desirable vacation that blends a philanthropic opportunity,” Brock continues.

Jaguar Creek in Belize is an example of effective philanthropic tourism, says Brock. The beautiful, boutique eco-resort provides curated experiences in Belize and on its 700 acres of conservation land. The resort also supports the local community through “encouragement of entrepreneurship and a commitment to serving the people of Belize,” Brock states, mentioning the Jaguar Creek employees are all local.

Community First! Village in Austin, Texas, provides another philanthropic tourism example, according to Brock. Companies, particularly technology companies, travel to the 51-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas. The travelers stay in nice housing accommodations, often short-term vacation rentals, and pay to volunteer in the community for the day as their vacation.

“Philanthropic tourism can provide an economical engine,” Brock concludes. “It may be a benefit locally if it honors the people and culture of Hawai‘i. The local people would be the empowered party.”