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Travelers Have Enormous Economic Influence

— The 2020 Ethical Destinations Awards help travelers discover and support worthy vacation spots


Michael McColl
Director of Communications
Ethical Traveler
+1 (510) 575 8711

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For Immediate Release

(BERKELEY, USA — JANUARY 2020) Travel is the world’s biggest industry. Nearly one in 10 people on this planet earn their living from travel and tourism. By being mindful of where we go – and what we do when we get there – travelers can literally change the world.

Each year, California-based nonprofit Ethical Traveler reviews nearly 200 developing nations for their commitment to human rights, social welfare, environmental protection, cultural interest, and natural beauty. The nonprofit’s annual Best Ethical Destinations report focuses on both commitment and progress. This means that countries making big changes fast also have an opportunity to make the list, regardless of past history. The 10 destinations that come out on top in each annual review are honored in that year’s Ethical Destinations Awards.

Visiting these winning destinations encourages them to continue their good work. Supporting ethical countries also encourages competing destinations to improve their environmental and human rights records.

Ethical Traveler congratulates the winners of the 2020 Ethical Destinations Awards. In alphabetical order (not in order of merit), the winners are:

Cabo Verde
Costa Rica*
The Gambia*
Trinidad and Tobago
(* = also a winner in 2019)

“How travelers spend their money really does matter,“ says Ethical Traveler’s executive director Jeff Greenwald. “When we travel to oppressive regimes, it often benefits the oppressors. When we travel to places that invest in their people, culture, and environment, we’re expressing our admiration and support.” Even so, adds Greenwald, “We encourage mindful travel to any destination that shakes up your world view, and builds bridges to other cultures.”

This year’s list includes first-time winner Armenia, chosen in part for its newly elected government’s focus on combating corruption and promoting green energy.

Greenwald also lauds a returning winner: “Mongolia is really on the right track. The country recently banned the burning of raw coal, and is spearheading new programs to protect migrants and vulnerable, often nomadic, minority groups. And, of course, it’s a stunning place to visit.”

Greenwald adds, “While we agree with the ‘flight shame’ movement that travelers should reduce their environmental footprint, we are adamant that mindful, occasional international travel is critical to international peace and understanding.”

To learn more about each award-winning country, see the full 2020 Ethical Destinations report.

Ethical Traveler is a project of the Berkeley-based Earth Island Institute. The mission of Ethical Traveler—“Empowering travelers to change the world”— highlights the economic clout of travel and tourism to protect human rights and the global environment.

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