The article looks at a debate that has been discussed around the WWOOF world for some years now, namely how WWOOF responds to changing needs as WWOOF shifts from being offered only in developed nations to also encompass hosts in less affluent regions of the world.
WWOOF Samoa, along with a few other national WWOOF organisations, have found that WWOOF in it’s original form is just not practical nor sustainable. While the hosts enjoy sharing their culture and day to day living with travellers they often struggle to provide the WWOOFers with basic necessities due to cost. In return many of those who WWOOF in these nations are not there to work hard and learn about organics but to get off the beaten track of backpacker hostels and have a “real” cultural experience of local life and traditions. For some groups the answer to this dilema has been to charge a small daily fee to help hosts cover the additional costs of hosting WWOOFers and providing WWOOFers with a more comfortable stay.
As Dennis discusses in the article on Samoa “financial considerations feature highly in the WWOOFing experience. Price, money and getting value for use of their time (and cash) rate highly in our WWOOFers minds…..”Read” the-budget-backpacker-experiential-tourist-in-a-WOOFing-disguise, and you have the picture…..When incomes from production are minimal and cheap local labour is abundant, the economics simply do not stack up when trying to use the common WWOOFing model of a direct exchange of labour for food & accommodation. On the surface, offering WWOOFing in Samoa is distinctly unattractive, and just bad business.” So WWOOF Samoa has developed an alternative to the original WWOOF model to accomodate the needs of both Hosts and WWOOFers in Samoa. You can read more on the specific Samoan model at the above article link. WWOOF Samoa is not the only WWOOF organisation to introduce a fee to the WWOOFer, nor is it the only WWOOF organisation to promote alternative tourist acitivies through it’s WWOOF site.
The question is, when is it ok for WWOOF hosts to charge WWOOFers a fee to cover costs? If some WWOOF hosts charge does this set a dangerous precendent for other groups around the world? If WWOOFers are paying for their stay can it still be called WWOOF or does the exchange need to be placed under another title focusing on the exchange as a form of social tourism? If WWOOFers go into the exchange aware that a fee is involved does that make it ok?
It is an ongoing debate around the WWOOF world and one we are always keen to hear your thoughts on. If you have an opinion please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, and watch this space for further discussion.