World’s 10 best ethical destinations for 2014

3 December 13

| Green Travel News |

Each year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of the world’s developing nations, then selects the ten that are doing the best job of preserving their environment, promoting human rights and creating a sustainable, community-based tourism industry. 

Ethical destination: a Cape Verde beach

Ethical destination: a Cape Verde beach

“Travel has recently become the world’s largest industry, exceeding a trillion-dollar annual footprint,” notes Ethical Traveler’s executive director, longtime travel author Jeff Greenwald. “That means that travelers have real power. Where we choose to put our footprints has real economic and political significance. Ethical Traveler believes that mindful travel offers many rewards, both personal and global. By ‘voting with our wings’—choosing our destinations well and remembering our roles as citizen diplomats—we create international goodwill and help change the world for the better.”

The 2014 winners (in alphabetical order):

The Bahamas
Cape Verde

How were these countries chosen? A research team first conducts a survey of developing nations—from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe—to identify the best travel and tourism destinations, focusing primarily on environmental protection, social welfare and human rights, past and present. For the first time in this year’s analysis, animal welfare was also considered. Using publicly available data, these countries are rated. Each country selected also offers the opportunity to experience “unspoiled natural beauty, and to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way.”

In announcing the winners, Ethical Traveler notes they all face “serious challenges” that “must be addressed if they are to continue moving forward. This year, several disconcerting trends were observed. Conflict with indigenous groups; scant resources directed toward women; gay rights; animal welfare. These were often subpar…. Once again, no Asian country qualified for our list. The human rights and environmental records of these nations continued to be found wanting.”

New on the list for 2014 were The Bahamas, Chile and Dominica.

Additionally, five “Destinations of Interest for 2014” were called out by Ethical Traveler, with this explanation: “Though these countries are not yet considered ethical destinations, open-minded travelers can learn much by visiting them. We believe it’s sometimes essential to step behind the ‘media curtain’ and inform oneself about controversial places through direct contact with local people. Nothing compares to witnessing firsthand the dynamic processes of social and political change.”

These five countries are Cuba, Egypt, Iran, the Philippines and Namibia.

Ethical Traveler, based in Berkeley, Calif., is an all-volunteer, non-profit project of the Earth Island Institute.

With so many worthy travel choices—not only during the busy, pressure-packed holiday season but throughout the coming year—most of us can benefit from expert help. Say “cheers!” to this easy holiday comparison tool.

  • Doug

    Hello, I think it is great that the Bahamas is making great strides in eco-tourism. But it is ridiculous to call it an ethical destination while it remains one of the the world’s most significant tax havens. Billions and Billions of tax revenue dollars that could be used or increasing standards of living or improving environmental sustainability is stashed away here. I applaud your initiative but this is a terrible choice to be called Ethical- it is the antithesis of ethical and the fact that it has a beautiful environmental cannot reverse this.

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  • Gary & Peggy

    Thanks, Michael. It was our pleasure to attend the “unveiling ceremony” for this year’s ethical destination winners. We were struck by how many ambassadors and consuls from the winning countries felt it was important to attend and accept the honor — a strong signal they recognize the importance of winning, and the tourism potential it represents.

    We think you’re right about the family farm connection, by the way. Healthy food and respect for the land is always something we look for in a green
    travel destination!

  • Michael McColl

    Gary and Peggy, thanks for joining us for the Ethical Destinations awards ceremony, and for sharing our project with your readers.

    We fully agree that “For green travel to thrive, it’s gotta be great travel.” And we’re certain that all ten of the winning countries are places that eco-friendly travelers will love.

    Reading your About page, it was interesting to note that both of you grew up on family farms. Me too. Perhaps that connection to the land is part of what motivates all of us to use travel as a way to preserve the planet. Keep up the good work!

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