Winners Announced: 2012's Top 10 Ethical Destinations in the Developing World

Winners Announced: 2012's Top 10 Ethical Destinations in the Developing World

Report names highest performers in human rights, environmental protection


Ethical TravelerBerkeley, USA, January 5, 2012 - From a shortlist of 30 finalists, an annual report released today highlights 10 tourism destinations for their accomplishments in the areas of environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights.


Ethical Traveler congratulates the countries that make up our 2012 list of The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations. The winners (in alphabetical order, not in order of merit) are:

  • Argentina
  • The Bahamas
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • Latvia
  • Mauritius
  • Palau
  • Serbia
  • Uruguay

Every year Ethical Traveler conducts a study of developing nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The research team first identifies the best tourism destinations in the developing world. Next, using publicly available data, countries are rated in the areas of environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights. For more on the methodology, please see the full report at


Report co-author and Ethical Traveler executive director Jeff Greenwald says, "It's always an honor to compile this list. It gives us great pleasure to express our admiration for these countries, and we hope they’ll reap real economic and social benefits as a result of our endorsement."


As researcher Natalie Lefevre points out, "None of these countries are perfect, but the countries that are on this list deserve their spots - thanks to their effort to ensure that tourism has a positive impact on their country and their people."


Ethical Traveler noted some surprises in 2012. According to Greenwald, "The steady trend we're seeing toward green practices and support for sustainable tourism – by governments and travelers alike - is a fantastic development, and shows a real coming-of-age in the international tourism community."


Island nations and South American countries did well again this year. New on the list for 2012 were Serbia, Palau and the Bahamas.


Greenwald notes, "One thing that was interesting this year – and unfortunate – was that some otherwise excellent countries in Latin America and Africa didn't make the list because of their draconian anti-gay laws."


Ethical Traveler encourages travelers to use their vacations to reward these countries by visiting them, and enjoying the wonderful sights, cultures and activities they offer.


Report co-author Natalie Lefevre says, "I hope that the countries that didn't make it onto 2012 year's list will feel motivated to work harder on their environmental, social and human rights records, so they might be reconsidered in 2013."


The 2012 winners were initially announced at the Commonwealth Club of California. To view the full 2012 Ethical Destinations report and accompanying photo gallery, please visit


Photo: Baltic Sea, Riga Coast, Latvia (Photo By Alexey Melsitov)


About Ethical Traveler

An all-volunteer, non-profit project of the Earth Island Institute, Ethical Traveler's mission is to use the power of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.


>> See Ethical Traveler's member profile





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