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Conventioneers turn to volunteer work

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Instead of lounging by the pool or playing a round of golf, people attending conventions increasingly are using their free time to volunteer, a new report says.

Nearly 45 percent of professionals interviewed said they had participated in volunteer work while attending a convention, says the study conducted by Tara Schickedanz for her master’s thesis in tourism, recreation and sports management at the University of Florida.

Nearly 43 percent said they would include volunteer work in future convention plans.

The practice of combining travel with volunteer work, dubbed “voluntourism,” is catching on partly because of rising gas, hotel and airline ticket costs. Conventioneers, while trying to save money, still expect a wide range of activities during their spare time.

“Voluntourism … is a cheap, cool concept that has something for everyone,” Schickedanz says in a statement. “Baby boomers who want to make a difference, corporations striving to be more socially responsible, and convention planners struggling with budget constraints as travel prices continue to climb.”

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