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Caribbean island places in top 10 ethical travel destinations for 2015

Caribbean island places in top 10 ethical travel destinations for 2015

Posted by Shanelle Weir on December 15, 2014

Every year, California-based nonprofit Ethical Traveler releases its list of the developing countries that are doing the most to promote human rights, support social welfare and preserve their environments, while fostering a lively, community-based tourism industry.

Flying the flag for the Caribbean is Dominica, which once again secured a spot in the top 10 and received high marks for “a clean energy initiative and concern for wildlife, including continued resistance to commercial whaling.”

Dominica was one of seven countries to return to Ethical Traveler’s top 10 for 2015, with Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga the only new entries to the list.

The Caribbean “Nature Island” was also among eight island nations to make the list, indicating a trend in the winners’ circle, according to Ethical Traveler’s report.

“Climate change affects islands dramatically, so they tend to be very aware of the importance of effective environmental policies,” it noted.

In a replay of last year’s result, no developing Asian country qualified for the 2015 list.

“All betrayed too many human rights abuses, and showed too little movement toward sustainability,” the report explained.

Each year, Ethical Traveler reviews policies and practices in the developing world to select its top 10.

The organisation’s research draws on information sources including Freedom House, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Reporters Without Borders, UNICEF, LGBT resources and the World Bank, and focuses on four categories: environmental protection, social welfare, human rights and animal welfare.

“For each of these categories we look at information past and present so that we understand not only the current state of a country, but how it has changed over time,” says Ethical Traveler.

“This helps us select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government and environment.

“After identifying about two dozen ‘short list’ performers, we turn to detailed case research, focusing on actions these governments have taken over the year to improve (or in some cases, weaken) practices and circumstances in the countries,” the report continued.

The chosen destinations must also have something to offer tourists, with each offering opportunities to check out incredible natural beauty, enjoy great outdoor activities and have interactions with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way, says Ethical Traveler.

Researchers are quick to point out that none of the destinations that made the list scored perfect marks.

“One issue that plagues nearly every country on our list is a high level of gender-based violence,” the report said.

“Chile has the highest rate in Latin America, and in Samoa it is so commonplace that most people simply accept it as a way of life.

“Samoa, however, does seem to be making headway on this issue. In 2013 the legislature passed an amended Crimes Act that outlawed spousal rape and improved measures against domestic violence.”

Many countries on the list also remain in the Tier 2 designation of the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report for 2014, which means their “governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s (Trafficking Victims Protection Act) minimum standards.”

“We encourage these countries – Uruguay, Cabo Verde, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau and Tonga – to do whatever is necessary to improve conditions,” the report noted.

The 2015 top 10 are (in alphabetical order):

1. Cape Verde
2. Chile
3. Dominica
4. Lithuania
5. Mauritius
6. Palau
7. Samoa
8. Tonga
9. Uruguay
10. Vanuatu

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