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Singapore’s Charitable Hearts Revealed: ‘Voluntourism’ On The Rise, But Only 10% Willing To Sacrifice Social Media For A Cause

June 25, 2015 OTA News No Comments Email Email

Is Singapore a nation of charitable hearts and philanthropic souls? It seems the response is divided following today’s announcement by ZUJI, the region’s leading online travel agent (OTA) who released findings to its latest travel insights report that profiles the habits and preferences of Singapore-based travellers.

The ongoing initiative details Singapore-based travellers’ preferences obtained by polls, and travel insights based on booking data from ZUJI.

Themed ‘Giving Back is the New Black’, 855 Singapore-based travellers participated in the poll, which asked participants a series of questions detailing their preferences when it comes to charity and donating to the less privileged on Singapore soil and abroad. While volunteer travel, or ‘Voluntourism’ is on the rise, there are some things Singapore-based travellers won’t sacrifice for those in need. The following findings were exposed:

 Singapore-based giving

  • Singapore is more inclined to make donations versus volunteering their time:

o   74% prefer donating cash or welfare items like food or second hand articles

o   15% like to volunteer

o   11% are keen to sign up for volunteer trips.

  • 60% of Singapore make it a point to give to charity at least twice per year; while more than half of that give to charity each month.
  • The top factors hampering Singapore from giving include time (29%), money (24%) and opportunities (17%).
  • While some are sceptical of the role non-profit organisations play in helping the underprivileged, the majority (69%) are supportive of these causes.
  • Giving is contagious! 60% of Singapore feel inspired to give when they hear that someone has made a donation.
  • When it comes to sacrificing items or experiences to support a good cause, Singapore’s charitable hearts waver:

o   As a nation that loves to travel, the majority (39%) would rather forgo purchasing luxury items like branded watches and bags, instead of travel (7%)!

o   Despite being foodies 36% would be willing to sacrifice a week of dining out on gourmet meals to support a good cause.

o   In a connected market like Singapore where smartphone penetration is over 85%, only 10% are willing to forgo social media for a week in order to help the less fortunate.

Overseas giving and volunteer travel

  • When it comes to travelling for a cause, 60% voted Asia as the destination where they would most like to help the less fortunate. South America was the least popular choice with only 4% of the vote, likely attributed to its distance from home and unfamiliarity. This is aligned to ZUJI booking data where 70% of bookings are to locations within Asia, with the remaining 30% being to further abroad countries.
  • Helping the underprivileged overseas is best enjoyed with a group of friends according to 37% of poll participants. While 1 in 3 feel it doesn’t matter who you travel with as the trip serves a bigger purpose. Despite that, 60% of ZUJI bookings shows that people are solo travelers.
  • Singapore-travellers believe children are the future with almost half (45%) preferring to teach underprivileged kids when volunteering overseas. Other motivations to travel and volunteer include:

o   Building and restoring communities (27%)

o   Saving endangered species through wildlife conservation (17%)

o   Mission trips for a spiritual awakening (11%)

  • Before volunteering abroad, 65% research destinations and causes through reputable travel content sites like ZUJI Passport. According to ZUJI, destinations on the rise include Yangon and Auckland, witnessing an increase in bookings over the past year.
  • When it comes to accommodation, typically, ZUJI hotel booking data reveals Singapore-based travellers opt for at least 4-star accommodation (63%). However on volunteer trips, 86% are willing to forgo these plush comforts and opt for budget hotels (45%) and hostels (28%).

Chua Hui Wan, CEO for ZUJI Singapore provided context to the poll, explaining: “We are witnessing more people travelling to developing countries, with Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines featuring among our top 20 booking destinations. The latest ZUJI-dex also reaffirms that travellers are interested in volunteer travel, particularly when it comes to helping children. With the strong number of long weekends in 2015, it’s the opportune time to jet-set for a few days, see a new place, but also give back.”

She continued, “While it’s rewarding to see that Singapore does want to help the needy, it is a pity that some things get in the way of this. ZUJI would like to raise awareness on this by highlighting that if you can’t make a trip oversees to help others, you can still make a difference on local soil. We have embarked on a partnership with The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (SPMF) to assist our local underprivileged students through providing experiences and financial support. Come November, we will also be awarding two SMPF beneficiaries and their families, with all-expense paid holidays, as we truly believe travel broadens horizons and creates brighter possibilities.”


For travellers keen to make an immediate impact and give back, from 26 – 28 June, ZUJI poster walkers will be roaming around the Orchard areas. To receive a hotel coupon code and have ZUJI donate $0.50 to SPMF, simply show them you have liked the ZUJI Facebook page.

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