If international travel is on your docket for 2014, you may want to consider its environmental and ethical impact.
Just in time to start planning this year’s trips, Ethical Traveler — a California-based nonprofit and global community of travelers that aims to “empower travelers to change the world” — has released its annual report on the world’s top 10 ethical destinations.
In alphabetical order, the winners are:
- The Bahamas
- Cape Verde
These countries, all part of the developing world, were selected because of their remarkable policies and efforts in the areas of environmental protection, social welfare, human rights and, a new category this year, animal welfare.
Jeff Greenwald, founder and executive director of Ethical Traveler, says his organization chooses to focus solely on developing nations because travel and tourism have a substantial impact on the gross national product of these countries.
“We feel that we can make a difference in those countries because they really want to try to do the right thing,” Greenwald says. “If we can send more travelers there because of their good policies, we think they’ll really stand up and take notice.”
When neighboring countries see the positive impact this publicity has on the winners’ tourism industry, they may be inclined to adopt the same best practices.
Greenwald, also an author and journalist, has been calling on travelers to “vote with their wings” ever since 1996, when he penned an op-ed for The Washington Post supporting the boycott of tourism to Burma (Myanmar) because of human rights abuses committed by the country’s corrupt military regime.
Next page: How the Destinations Are Selected