Volunteer tourism involves tourists volunteering for part of or all their travels and includes direct interaction with the natural environment within a specific social setting. Non-promotional material has a greater impact on the volunteer tourist’s ultimate decision to volunteer than promotional material (Easton & Wise, 2015). This research addressed the impact of social media in influencing volunteer tourists to participate in volunteer programmes in a developing country context, i.e. Namibia. Primary, qualitative data collection with the use of in-depth interviews from five selected volunteer tourism organisations (VTOs) in Namibia was undertaken. Volunteer tourists and VTO representatives were interviewed. This is a pioneer study of the influence of social media marketing on volunteer tourists and their decision (-making process) to participate in selected volunteer programmes in a developing country, i.e. Namibia. Main findings of the study include both volunteer tourists and VTOs considering social media presence and online interaction as a valuable platform to connect and share information. Facebook is considered as the most popular social media platform. VTOs strongly believe that social media marketing influences volunteer tourists’ decision-making in participating in volunteer programmes and that it gives a definite competitive advantage over other VTOs who do not participate in social media marketing efforts. The majority of the volunteers interviewed, believe that past volunteers’ reviews did influence them to participate in the programme and VTOs are encouraging volunteers to share experiences. The findings of the study may assist selected VTOs in developing countries in the development of social media marketing strategies.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2019.