Volunteer tourism or voluntourism is a relatively new form of tourism which is viewed as a means for poverty reduction or an approach for pro-poor tourism in the developing countries. The primary aim of this research was to examine the role of volunteer tourism in poverty alleviation. It employed an interpretive paradigm utilizing qualitative data collection methods including semi-structured interviews and participant observation. The informants included twelve volunteer tourists who were on a working vacation in Thailand, and fifteen local residents in Thailand in the communities where volunteer tourism activities took place. The findings of the research indicate that in the point of view of both the volunteer tourists and the local residents, volunteer tourism could be used as an effective means to help reduce the state of poverty in the local communities. Specifically, volunteer tourism activities helped transfer of wealth as well as better skills and knowledge from rich or developed countries to poor or developing countries. It was also perceived as a means for providing unfortunate local people with an opportunity to learn English which will enable to have a better life in the future. The research findings provide tourism practitioners, especially those related to volunteer tourism, with insights on how to organize volunteer tourism in the way that that poor people can truly benefit from such tourism activity.
Keywords: Volunteer Tourism, Pro-Poor Tourism, Poverty Reduction