Friday, January 23, 2015

Ethical Traveler listsTop 10 Destinations for a Positive Impact When You Vacation

Travelers: put your money where your beliefs are. Nonprofit encourages tourism to countries known for treating their people & environment well.

Most of us love to travel, and most of us want to have a positive impact on the world. If you do it right, one non-profit asserts, you can do both at the same time. By spending your travel dollars in forward-thinking countries, you can reward the good guys—and encourage good practices worldwide.

Each year, California-based nonprofit Ethical Traveler researches and publishes a list of the 10 most ethical destinations in the developing world. Each country is reviewed for its performance in the areas of human rights, social welfare, animal welfare and protection of the environment. That’s not all; a winning country also must have plenty of appeal as a travel destination. Ethical Traveler congratulates the countries that earned a spot on our 2015 Ethical Destinations Awards.

Samoa - Puila Cave Pools (Laura Beasley)

The 2015 winners, in alphabetical order (NOT in order of merit) are:
  • Cabo Verde
  • Chile
  • Dominica
  • Lithuania
  • Mauritius
  • Palau
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
New for 2015:

Tonga is taking bold steps to reduce diesel importation, substituting solar home energy instead. Tonga’s new development plan attempts to balance environmental and economic concerns. In 2015, Ha’aapai will become Tonga’s first island dedicated to organic farming. The new government has also improved in terms of social welfare & human rights. Vanuatu has made great progress in recent years in terms of indigenous rights, democratic reforms and protecting victims of domestic violence. It also has been named the “Happiest Country in the World” by the Happy Planet Index.

Though Samoa lost its spot in 2014 due to a number of serious issues, we’re pleased to return the nation to the winners circle in 2015. Samoa has set new environmental protection goals for itself, and is now working with the United Nations on biodiversity, desertification and climate change. In addition, rape within marriage was outlawed by the recent Crimes Act. Domestic violence measures have improved, as have LGBT rights. The Fa’afafine, traditionally thought of as a “third sex” in Samoa, are now legally allowed to dress as women.

OFF the list in 2015:

Latvia is no longer eligible for our list, as it became the second Baltic state to achieve status as a “developed country.” Latvia now uses the Euro, and is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU.

The otherwise beautiful Bahamas insists on building new captive dolphin facilities. This is a regression in terms of environmentalism and in terms of animal rights. Ethical Traveler opposes all captive cetacean facilities, but is particularly offended to see governments still supporting the construction of new “dolphin prisons.”

Barbados made some strides in terms of environmental protection in 2014. However, our researchers could find no significant evidence of efforts to stop police brutality, curtail human trafficking or protect LGBT rights. We’ll be watching developments in 2015.

Costa Rica, which won in 2013 but was knocked off the list in 2014, 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 the sea turtle trades. Rather than take steps to resolve these issues, Costa Rican officials called Ethical Traveler “outrageous” for pointing out the problems.

Our goal at Ethical Traveler is to encourage developing nations to do the right thing, and to reward destinations where policies and actions protect human rights and the environment. While we acknowledge that no country is perfect, we honor those which strive to build a better, more sustainable society. To read the full 10-page report, with more detail than this press release, please visit

Sourced from Ethical Traveler -

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