| 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.
“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):
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.