This study critically challenges the implied unproblematic categorizations of tourism by exploring cultural exchange as an ambiguous form of volunteer tourism. Specifically, this article presents findings from a case study of a group of Australian participating in a J-1 visitor exchange program in the United States. The findings of this study suggest that cultural exchange as a form of volunteer tourism creates a number of potentially ambiguous and conflicting roles for participants. These include the roles of cultural ambassador, underpaid employee, reluctant volunteer, and forced packaged tourist. The findings of this study challenges current approaches to volunteer tourism that argues that this type of tourism creates a context in which postmodern notions of agentic freedom associated with hybridity may be exercised. This paper concludes by discussing implication for research and management in the area of volunteer tourism.
Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 28, Issue 3, p. 5-13