Media Inspires International Help – Brits’ Top 10 Career Breaks

LONDON, January 9/PRNewswire/ — Media coverage of international disasters has inspired a boom in travel to help with overseas relief and conservation work. TV, newspaper and radio coverage of disasters, ecological threats and charity appeals – such as the Make Poverty History campaign – has led to increasing numbers of people travelling overseas to join in with organised relief efforts. Trips range from projects to help tsunami-hit areas in Indonesia and re-building work in earthquake-torn Pakistan, to improving schools in Africa and helping to catch poachers on Kenyan game reserves.

A survey, by the organisers of this weekend’s Adventure Travel and Sports Show at London’s Olympia (13-15 January), has revealed that people are increasingly incorporating voluntary work into their extended holidays and career breaks – particularly to get involved in humanitarian and conservation work.

Sarah Horner of Travel specialist i-to-i explained: “Until relatively recently volunteer travel was seen as the province of the gap year student. Around five years ago students accounted for around 95% of i-to-i volunteers. However this is rapidly changing, and people taking career breaks now account for around a third of all our travellers. Judging from past years, this trend looks set to grow even further.”

Twenty-one companies that offer developmental trips were surveyed to find out the top 10 career breaks which people are incorporating into their time off abroad:

Top 10 Career Breaks

1. General volunteering (eg community or humanitarian work)

2. Paid employment (eg ski guide)

3. Animal conservation

4. Teaching (eg Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

5. Environmental conservation

6. Studying (eg learning Spanish)

7. Professional volunteering (eg engineers, business administration)

8. Marine conservation

9. Charity Challenges (eg raising money by hiking the Inca Trail)

10. Special interest (eg drama courses)

Following the growing trend for career breaks, industry experts are forecasting an increasing demand in 2006. Research by South African Tourism has shown that nine out of 10 working Brits say they would like to take a career break; plus a recent Mintel report estimated GBP2.5 billion a year is spent by UK adults on career breaks or gap year travel. Further interest in career breaks has also been fuelled by Gordon Brown’s proposals to introduce a Government-backed scheme to encourage young people to take a year off to do voluntary work.

Charlotte Hindle, author of Lonely Planet’s ‘Career Break Book’ said, “Fulfilling your dreams and taking a career break has never been easier. You can save the money in less than 18 months. Putting your life on hold is plain common sense and an increasing number of companies have career-break friendly policies.”

Martin Anslow, organiser of the Adventure Travel & Sport Show said: “We are seeing a phenomenal rise in the number of people who are turning their backs on traditional holidays and choosing instead to take an adventure holiday or career break based around helping others and the environment.”

The Adventure Travel & Sports Show is the only event in the UK dedicated to showcasing the biggest collection of off the beaten track holidays, with more than 250 exhibitors offering trips ranging from visiting penguins in Antarctica to rafting the Zambezi. There will be more than 100 free talks on travel and advice from all operators offering career breaks. Adventurous visitors to the show can also visit the have-a-go Adventure Centre with a try-dive scuba pool, ice-climbing wall and hang-gliding simulator. Advance adult tickets are GBP8 from +44-(0)870-161-2122, or GBP10 on the door.

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