A California-based organization, Ethical Traveler, seeks to “empower travelers to change the world”, using the economic clout of tourism to encourage protection of human rights and the environment. Ethical Traveler is a project of the well-known Earth Island Institute, The organization has been publishing an annual ‘World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations’ since 2006.
To compile the annual list Ethical Traveler conducts a survey of developing nations, focusing on four general categories: environmental protection, social welfare, human rights, and animal welfare. The organization reviews current and past information in each of these categories so that decisions are based not only on the current state of a country, but also on how it has changed over time. This helps select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government and environment. Each country selected as a Best Ethical Destination must also offer unspoiled natural beauty, great outdoor activities and the opportunity to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way.
The 2015 Best Ethical Destinations list, in alphabetical order, includes:
- Cabo Verde
It is instructive to look not only at the currently listed countries but also at those dropped from the list this year. Dropped from the list this year are Latvia, Barbados and the Bahamas. Latvia became the second Baltic state to achieve status as a “developed country” and therefore is no longer eligible for the list. Although Barbados reaffirmed its commitment to environmental preservation, it did not make it onto this year’s list because no evidence was found that the country is addressing some of its most serious problems: human trafficking, police brutality and discrimination against LGBT citizens. The Bahamas was removed from the list largely because of its ongoing construction of captive dolphin facilities. Although many NGOs and animal rights groups have brought lawsuits to halt the development of a fourth such park at Blackbeard Cay, the government is still pushing the project ahead.
In addition to the top ten list, Ethical Traveler provides a list of ‘destinations of interest’. This year that list includes
Of the world’s 150 or so developing nations the Ethical Traveler lists provide a robust selection for those wishing to support and vacation in countries with good social and environmental responsibility performance. A complete report along with a useful summary and much more information can be found at http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/explore/reports/the-worlds-best-ethical-destinations-2015/