What are the most ethical travel destinations in the world? Ask the California-based nonprofit Ethical Traveler group, which researches and publishes a top ten.
The decision is based on a combination of its human rights and social welfare record, environmental protection including animal welfare, and its appeal as a travel destination. The list includes only nations in the developing world, so you won’t see countries such as the USA or Norway on the list, no matter how ethical and appealing they are.
Here’s the list of 2014 winners, grouped regionally, not in order of merit:
- Caribbean – Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica
- South America – Chile, Uruguay
- Africa – Cape Verde, Mauritius
- South Pacific – Palau
- Baltics – Latvia, Lithuania
The beautiful Bahamas is back, after implementing steps to reduce human trafficking and significantly expanding its national parks and marine protected areas.
Chile, with its astonishing variety of landscapes and cultures, also is back on the list, thanks to increased gender equality scores, ambitious environmental initiatives, and a program to move logging workers into tourism.
Dominica returns as well, courtesy of improved social welfare and a plan to become a carbon negative nation by 2020.
These destinations fell off the Ethical Traveler list for 2014:
Costa Rica, which won in 2013, continues to be a major Western Hemisphere hub for child sex trafficking. The government also allowed persecution, intimidation and murder of activists working against the illegal shark finning and sea turtle trades.
Ghana, also on last year’s list, failed to repeat due to active discrimination against same-sex couples.
Samoa lost its spot this year due to unsustainable logging, failure to guarantee LGBT rights, and unimproved women’s rights which include rRape within marriage, still not considered a crime.
The goal of the Ethical Destinations project is to encourage developing nations to do the right thing, and to reward those whose policies and actions protect human rights and the environment. And it makes a difference. An Ethical Traveler spokesperson tells ecoXplorer that at last year’s awards ceremony, they mentioned an admittedly obscure marine protection issue to the Honorary Consul of Palau, which since has been implemented by the government of the small island nation so popular with scuba divers.
Read the full Ethical Traveler report on Ethical Destinations. And put ethical destinations on the top of your travel list when you make your travel plans.