The valorisation of cross-cultural understanding and promotion of an ethic of global citizenship are at the forefront of the recent development and proliferation of international ‘gap year’ travel programs and policies. Governments and industry alike promote gap year travel uncritically as a guaranteed pathway to the development of inclusive ideologies associated with global citizenship. In this paper we examine how the neoliberalist context in which gap year travel programs have proliferated does little to promote tolerance. We then consider the recent growth of ‘volunteer tourism’ as an alternative gap year youth travel experience and explore how the implied resistance to self-serving neoliberalist values that it engenders can become coopted by neoliberalism.
Annals of Tourism Research Vol. 39, Issue 1, p. 361-378