Ethical Travel: Travel as a Powerful Tool for Change
Traveling Ethically: Why It Matters
Travel is one of the biggest industries on Earth, and our economic power as travelers is enormous. When we’re mindful of where our money is going, we turn that power into political activism. Deciding which countries to visit—and where to eat, sleep and tour when we get there—are not trivial concerns. The way we travel has a real impact on the environment, human rights, and the way our home countries are perceived by people in other lands.
About Ethical Traveler: Traveler’s Alliance
Ethical Traveler is a nonprofit organization, founded to “empower travelers to change the world.” Uniting adventurers, tourists, travel agencies and outfitters, Ethical Traveler seeks to use the economic clout of tourism and the combined power of the travel community to achieve the common goals of safeguarding the environment and supporting human rights.
Ethical Traveler is an NGO member of TIES.
The List: Destinations You Can Feel Great About Visiting
Each year, Ethical Traveler conducts a study of developing nations in order to identify tourism destinations that are actively improving the state of their people, government, and environment, and publishes the report “The World’s Best Ethical Destinations“.
The study focuses on three general categories: Environmental Protection (environmental health, preservation of resources, cultivation of beneficial, sustainable practices), Social Welfare (child mortality rates, access to safe drinking water, sustainable water management, responsible sanitation practices, agricultural management, immunization rates, girls’ access to primary education, health expenditure), and Human Rights (preservation of basic human rights, progress in addressing current situations).
*The sources and databases used to obtain current information on the above categories include: Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Human Development Report and Human Rights Watch. If interested, contact Ethical Traveler to request an appendix listing all sources.
The list is not meant to be a seal of approval declaring these countries faultless – after all, “no country in the world is perfect”. It is, instead, a useful resource to encourage positive behaviors and to help travelers “vote with their travel budget” ethically. It is also a wonderful way to learn about social, economic and environmental realities of the world’s developing destinations, and to explore off-the-beaten-path travel opportunities that make a positive impact.
What Does the Report Mean to You?
For travelers and tourism businesses alike, Ethical Traveler’s “The Developing World’s Best Ethical Destinations” report offers great insights into the power of travel to make a positive difference in the world, and to enhance tourism’s role as an economic incentive to improve human rights, environmental conservation, and social practices.
For travelers, choosing to visit these destinations is an opportunity to cast your vote for responsible destinations, and to show respect for those countries that care about human rights and the environment. For tourism businesses and other industry stakeholders, the report can be a helpful tool to encourage selected destinations to continue pursuing good behaviors and improving on key social, economic and environmental issues, as well as to advocate for significant change in countries that have not yet made the list in past years or have been de-listed due to serious concerns regarding human rights or environmental practices.
With that in mind, where will your ethical travel take you in the new year?
Auktaitijos National Park, Lithuania
(Photo by Ethical Traveler – “In Pictures: Ethical Destinations 2010“)