The rapid expansion and commercialisation of the volunteer tourism sector and the potential for negative impacts on host communities have put the sector under increasing scrutiny. Monitoring and evaluation are key aspects of sustainable tourism planning and management, and play important roles in the project planning and implementation cycles of volunteer tourism organisations and destination managements. However, they can be both value-laden and politically charged, making an understanding of context, purpose and various approaches to monitoring and evaluation important. Drawing from evaluation and critical management studies, this conceptual paper reviews the literature, presenting an analytical framework aimed at improving the quality of monitoring and evaluation. The paper is positioned within the adaptancy platform and focuses on qualitative, critical approaches to evaluation. The framework highlights the important influence of context (the issue the volunteer tourism programme is addressing, the nature of the intervention, the setting, the evaluation context and the decision-making context), and identifies four dimensions of volunteer tourism (stakeholders, organisations, markets and programmes) which may influence monitoring and evaluation practices. The analytical framework presented is useful for practitioners developing monitoring and evaluation processes, and for researchers interested in empirical studies which seek to evaluate monitoring and evaluation practices.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 2014, Vol 22, Issue 6, p. 874-897