Cross-border Area Research Summary
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Project activities for the June to December 2016 period included gathering a database of interested non-profit organisations for the development and promotion of voluntourism programs as innovative and recognizable tourism products for the cross-border area of Croatia and Montenegro.
Surveys were conducted in the Dubrovnik county in Croatia and in the coastal area of Montenegro - in six coastal cities (Herceg Novi, Tivat, Kotor, Budva, Bar, Ulcinj) and in Cetinje. This research effort targeted three groups of respondents: tourists, for-profit tourist sector representatives and non-profit sector representatives.
Around twenty non-profit organisations and several travel agencies were surveyed both in person and electronically in the Dubrovnik county area. The survey was conducted in the post-season time of year so responses were relatively low in number. Consequently, additional efforts were made to encourage participation by acquainting the respondents with the project and its merit.
Non-profit organisations who work with children and the youth were the most responsive and all of them included volunteers. The survey identified the need for volunteer program management and social entrepreneurship development. They recognized that Voluntourism is an opportunity for organisations to self-finance. The survey of tourists in Montenegro was conducted randomly during July and August 2016 through direct contact. Efforts were made to ensure equal inclusion of sexes and age groups in the survey. A total of 574 tourists were surveyed.
The results showed that 39.5% of respondents were visiting Montenegro for the first time, while 70.9% visited more than one city during their stay. 40.6% of respondents stayed in private accommodation, 15% in hostels, 14.6% in hotels and 11% reported they were property owners. 26.7% respondents said they decided to visit Montenegro for its natural attractions, 24.6% said it was because of previous visit satisfaction, 22.8% said it was because of affordable prices and 21.6% reported friends’ recommendations were key. Cultural assets and attractions were visited by 68.6% of respondents, and those respondents singled out: the older parts of coastal municipalities, carnivals, National Parks, the Mausoleum, monasteries and other religious sites such as the Monastery in Cetinje and Ostrog. Most tourists are well acquainted with the cultural events on offer and they reported the Internet as a source of information in that regard. In response to a question about their interest in participating in a local drive for an opportunity to visit another location in Montenegro, 46.7% of the respondents answered positively.
During June through December, for-profit representatives were surveyed directly through interviews. These included tour guides, travel agencies, hotels, hostels, camps and city tourism offices. A total of 132 respondents participated in the survey. Of all interviewed respondents, 87.9% are service providers, of which 72.7% in direct contact with tourists while 37.9% organise tours. 95.5% of respondents reported that they thought the concept of volunteer tourism (voluntourism) was applicable in Montenegro, and 34.1% have active holiday programs most frequently the likes of: kayaking, rafting, zip line, trekking, cycling tours, hiking etc. The survey found that 82.6% of respondents in this sector were unfamiliar with the concept of voluntourism. 87.1% think that voluntourism would be well received by tourists, who would benefit from the opportunity to visit more of Montenegro. They are of the opinion that tourists from Western Europe and the United States where the concept of volunteering is widespread may be more inclined to recognize the benefits of voluntourism, whereas tourists from the region may be less so. The respondents also favour the concept as they report being against the tendencies toward massive tourism, which can be seen in Montenegro and have negative long-term effects.
The third group of respondents were made up of non-profit representatives within the civil sector, from arts and culture societies, hiking associations, scouts units etc. A total of 51 respondents were surveyed. 82.4% work locally, 47.1% work nationally, 56.9% regionally and 39.2% internationally. 94.1% of them include volunteers in their activities, with their numbers ranging from 3 to 20 volunteers. 78.4% of surveyed organisations do not have a developed program and work procedure for volunteers, while 82.4% report not having a point of contact hired for this purpose. 92.2% of respondent organisations reported interest in handling volunteering in a more organised fashion, while 90.2% deem themselves active in the tourism sector. The concept of voluntourism is applicable in Montenegro according to 98% of surveyed non-profit respondents. 23.5% are familiar with the concept, while 96.5% are of the opinion that tourists would take time to participate in volunteering activities on their visit. Of the surveyed respondents, 88.2% show interest in developing voluntourism programs.
The conducted research draws the conclusion that a large number of tourists show interest in adding content to their holiday. Voluntourism may be a means to get to know a culture and reap the benefits of a cross-border region through direct social contact with the goal of providing an alternative to massive tourism.