Orphanage tourism

Hope and Homes for Children and ABTA – The Travel Association – established the Orphanage Tourism Taskforce to help end orphanage tourism.

Global actors such as the UN and many governments, including the UK, are committed to eliminating orphanages – tourists and the travel industry in the UK, and globally, are key stakeholders in making this happen. 

The opportunity for travellers to visit or volunteer in orphanages overseas – no matter how well-intentioned – is contributing to the global proliferation of orphanages across the developing world, and there is strong evidence of psychological, physical and emotional harm caused to children by orphanages. Common destinations for orphanage tourism include Africa, South Asia and South and Central America.

These orphanages can also contribute towards incidents of trafficking – where children with families are recruited to pose as orphans and solicit income from visitors. Together we believe there is no place for tourism within orphanage settings. 

ABTA has been taking an active role in supporting child safeguarding for many years and advises its Members to move away from offering volunteering in, visits to or donations towards orphanages or other child-care institutions. The taskforce seeks to harness the leadership that organisations from across the travel industry have already shown by: 

  • Increasing traveller awareness of the topic of orphanage tourism
  • Providing evidence to the UK government to inform travel advice on the issue
  • Work with tourist boards and local suppliers to transition away from orphanage visits
  • And to engage the travel sector press in raising awareness. 

Founding members of the Taskforce include TUI, Intrepid, Exodus and Projects Abroad who will explore the actions required for the travel industry to support and advance the position against orphanages. 

Holidaymakers are advised not to volunteer in, visit or donate money to overseas orphanages and instead are being encouraged to contribute to the local economy by shopping in local shops and markets, or support charities that can help strengthen families and communities, such as Hope and Homes for Children.  Those wishing to volunteer, are advised to do their research and check out accredited schemes such as International Citizen Service and UN online Volunteering. 

Watch Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA, talk about the need to end #EndOrphanageTourism 


For more information on orphanage tourism, please visit Home and Hopes for Children or download the leaflet.