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Top Ten — Wait, Make That 9 — Ethical Destinations for 2019

Ethical Destinations Awards forced to disqualify one winning nation at press time 


Media Contact:
Michael McColl, Director of Communications +1 (510) 575 8711

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For Immediate Release

(BERKELEY, USA ― January 2019) For the first time in the history of the Ethical Destinations Awards, a winner has been disqualified at the last moment. As this report was being finalized, Chile was removed from the list of winning countries due to problems with its human rights policies.

On the other hand, Nepal—still recovering from the disastrous earthquake that struck the landlocked nation in April 2015—won a place on the list for the first time.

This year’s nine winning countries reflect the ideals of Ethical Traveler’s mission, demonstrating continued commitments to the key issues of human rights, animal rights, and environmental protection. These countries show how travel can be a force for good–and how the choices each one of us makes can increase travel’s benefits to the world.

Part of being an ethical traveler is being thoughtful about where to go and when. The Ethical Destinations Awards seek to provide travelers with better data for choosing their next place to visit. Executive director Jeff Greenwald explains, “By letting travelers know which countries are doing a great job of promoting human rights and protecting the environment, we hope to encourage a strong link between tourism dollars and sustainable practices.”

Each year, the nonprofit organization Ethical Traveler assesses the world’s developing countries, conducting extensive research into their human rights and environmental protection efforts. Research director Natalie Lefevre explains, “Using publicly available reports from organizations like Transparency International and the United Nations, we form a ‘short-list’ of 20-30 nations. These countries then undergo further review of their actions and policies in the preceding year. The ten nations who made the most significant progress on human and animal rights and environmental issues are named Ethical Destinations Awards winners. Some of these countries are far from perfect but they are making significant efforts. We hope to encourage them to keep moving in the right direction.”

Ethical Traveler congratulates the winners of the 2019 Ethical Destinations Awards. In alphabetical order (not in order of merit), the winners are:

Costa Rica*
The Gambia
(* = also a winner in 2018)

The goal of the Ethical Destinations Awards is to encourage developing nations that have chosen to do the right thing, and to reward destinations where policies and actions protect human rights and the environment.

This year’s winning destinations span the globe, from ecotourism favorites Costa Rica & Fiji, to off the beaten path spots like Palau & Mongolia. Unfortunately, Chile could not be included, despite its many attractions.

Executive Director Jeff Greenwald says, “We’re especially excited about Nepal’s success this year, as well as The Gambia. And while Chile has historically scored well on both environmental and human rights efforts, the country recently backed out of its pledge to sign the United Nations Migration Pact. In addition, they have violently escalated the struggle over ancestral lands and indigenous rights. Due to these eleventh hour developments, we were forced to remove Chile from this year’s list. This leaves us with just nine winning countries—an unprecedented situation.”

To get started on your plan for an ethical getaway, just click through to the full 2019 Ethical Destinations report.   You’ll learn more about how each country earned its spot on the winner’s list, and also learn what we’ll be watching for as we do our research for 2020. To see how the winners have changed over the years, please note that all previous years’ Ethical Destinations reports are available in the right column of that page.

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Ethical Traveler is an all-volunteer, non-profit project of the Earth Island Institute. Our mission is to use the power of tourism to protect human rights and the environment. No money or contributions are solicited or accepted in the preparing of this annual report. For more information, please visit .

Note: Interviews with Executive Director Jeff Greenwald and other members of Ethical Traveler are available upon request. For your convenience, a gallery of pre-cleared images (CC-licensed or royalty free for editorial use) for 2019 is available at .

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