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Travelers who want to align their wanderings with human rights, animal rights and other ethical concerns may have to scratch The Bahamas, Barbados and Latvia off their bucket lists.
All three were among Ethical Traveler’s 10 most ethical destinations in 2014, but were erased from the 2015 list, which includes Cabo Verde, Chile, Dominica, Lithuania, Mauritus, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Uruguay and Vanuatu.
Ethical Traveler, a non-profit project aligned with the Earth Island Institute, vets developing countries as travel destinations from the prisms of human rights, animal rights, social welfare and environmental protection.
The Bahamas went missing on the 2015 list because of government support for “building new captive dolphin facilities,” states Ethical Traveler, which refers to the country as “the otherwise beautiful Bahamas.”
“Barbados made some strides in terms of environmental protection in 2014,” Ethical Traveler states. “However, our researchers could find no significant evidence of efforts to stop police brutality, curtail human trafficking or protect LGBT rights.”
Latvia was not included in the 2015 list because it is no longer considered a developing country.
Costa Rica “won” in 2013, but was not included on the list in 2014 and 2015 “because it continues to be a major Western Hemisphere hub for child sex trafficking,” the group states.
Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu are newcomers to the ethical travel list in 2015.
Ethical Traveler lauded Tonga for dedicating an island to organic farming and for “taking bold steps” to emphasize solar energy over diesel fuel importation; Vanuatu won plaudits for instituting democratic reforms, including the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and helping domestic violence victims, and Samao made a comeback, after being absent in 2014, for improvements in environmental protection, outlawing rape within marriage, and protecting LGBT rights.
There is plenty of room for debate over Ethical Traveler’s choices and methodologies, but this is a useful list for travelers to use as a measuring stick to make their own choices.