the Bahamas a more ethical vacation choice than Costa Rica?
crux of a recent survey about ethical travel, a movement that encourages travellers
to be mindful about the impact of bringing tourism dollars to one country over
another. To encourage responsible globetrotting, a California
nonprofit Ethical Traveler has been regularly compiling a list of its top 10 ethical destinations since 2006. The surprise: 2014’s
list, which came out in late 2013, has three new contenders: the Bahamas, Chile and Dominica. So
what are they doing right that Costa Rica, Ghana and Samoa (which fell off the
list from 2013) didn’t do enough of?
lies in the way Ethical Traveler evaluates countries for its top 10 list.
to more standard criteria like unspoiled natural beauty and authentic cultural
experiences, researchers judged destinations on 35 metrics in four categories:
environment protection, social welfare, human rights, and for the first time,
animal welfare. In other words, judges considered quality of drinking water in
the category of environmental protection, women’s rights in the category of
human rights, and so on.
won its way onto the list by making efforts to reduce human trafficking and
expand national parks and protected areas, such as the Andros
West Side National Park, which grew from 882,000 acres to nearly 1.3
million acres. Chile improved its gender equality scores and launched a few ambitious
environmental initiatives – including a program to move logging workers into
various tourism roles. And a plan to become carbon negative – that is, minimize
and offset carbon emissions – by 2020 helped Dominica make the cut.
list for 2014 (in alphabetical order) includes the Bahamas, Barbados, Cape
Verde, Chile, Dominica, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau and Uruguay. Ethical
Traveler does not rank the countries within the top 10.
can “vote with their wings”, said Jeff Greenwald, Ethical Traveler’s founder
and executive director. “We feel that we can make a difference in those
countries because they really want to try to do the right thing. If we can send
more travellers there because of their good policies, we think they’ll really
stand up and take notice.”
countries that fell off the list from 2013 – Costa Rica, Ghana and Samoa – slid
backward on key metrics such as environmental protection and human rights
violations, said Michael McColl, Ethical Traveler’s co-founder and director of
for example, is a major
hub for human trafficking and its government allows persecution of
activists working against illegal shark finning and sea turtle trades, McColl
said. Ghana dropped from last year’s list due to discrimination against
same-sex couples (same-sex
sexual activity is illegal in Ghana, and there is no legal recognition of
same-sex couples. Ghanaian law also does not protect people from discrimination
based on sexual orientation.) And Samoa fell from the top 10 due to
unsustainable logging, failure
to guarantee LGBT rights and poor women’s rights. Nonetheless, these
countries still received high marks overall, and are still among the more
ethical countries a traveller can visit.
to put your money where your beliefs are,” Greenwald says. “Everyone loves the
thought of travelling to Thailand or Cambodia or Burma, [but these places]
don’t really have great human rights records. Why not use your travel dollars
to show your support and solidarity for countries that are struggling to have
good government and attract travellers? Why not reward them? It could create a
groundswell of economic incentive for countries to do the right thing.”
properties and tours within a country, the site Green Travel Reviews evaluates environmentally and socially conscious properties like Rosalie
Bay, the only Green
Globe-certified resort in Dominica which has won accolades for its wind- and
solar-powered energy, including more than 200 solar panels; locally- and
organically-sourced food; and protected black sand beach where endangered sea
turtles nest. In Costa Rica, Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge is one of the few eco-resorts
to earn a five-Leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certification for Sustainable
Tourism for its pristine 170-acre nature preserve as well as a number of
eco-initiatives including a solar electric system, hydroelectric turbine and a
hybrid solar convection system for heating water.
believe that we, as a tourism entity, have a responsibility to the travelling
public and the beautiful destination we represent to use natural resources in a way that protects the local environment and
improves the well-being of its residents,” said Rosalie Bay owner Beverly