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Winners Announced: Top 10 Ethical Destinations for 2018

Nonprofit group honors countries that score best for protecting their environments and promoting socially-just, sustainable tourism.


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

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For Immediate Release

(BERKELEY, USA ― February 2018)  Travel can be a force for positive change. The travel industry provides roughly one in 10 jobs worldwide. Individual travelers can use that economic clout to make a difference when they travel.

Berkeley nonprofit produces a comprehensive annual report on the most ethical destinations in the developing world. The group encourages travelers to consider spending their travel dollars in a way that rewards nations who are doing good work.

Each year, Ethical Traveler’s team of global researchers starts with a long list of all the countries in the developing world. Using publicly available data from Amnesty International, the United Nations World Health Organization and many others, researchers determine which countries are doing the best work in terms of protecting the environment, human rights and social welfare. These are destinations where your travel dollars can be used to directly support destinations that take good care of their people and their natural resources. The winners are announced live at an awards ceremony at the start of each year.

The 2018 Ethical Destinations Awards winners (in alphabetical order, not ranked) are:

Costa Rica
St. Kitts & Nevis

This year, Benin, Colombia and St. Kitts & Nevis won Ethical Traveler Awards for the first time.

Benin abolished the death penalty in 2017 and began a campaign to end child marriages. The West African nation also announced plans to invest $850 million in 277 new socioeconomic projects, including creating 500,000 new jobs and 20,000 housing units, as well as investments in key tourism, infrastructure, and urban development ventures.

In Colombia, poverty has fallen by half since 2002. President Juan Santos has doubled the number of hectares under environmental protection. LGBT rights continued to improve in 2017.

St. Kitts & Nevis now enjoys Freedom House’s highest score in political rights and has taken numerous steps to empower women. Last year, the island nation became one of only eight countries in the world recognized by the World Health Organization for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of both HIV and syphilis.

In 2018, Uruguay has won an Ethical Traveler Award for a record ninth time, out of 11 possible awards ceremonies. Uruguay continues to rank first in Latin America on measures of democracy, peace, and lack of corruption, and first in South America for press freedom and prosperity. On the environment front, Uruguay continues its resolve to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Nearly 95 percent of its electric power comes from renewables.

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. While acknowledging that no country is perfect, the Ethical Destinations Awards honors nations that strive to build a better, more sustainable society.

To read the full report, which contains much more detail than this press release, please visit To see how this has changed over time, please note that all previous 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. PHOTOS: For your convenience, a gallery of pre-cleared images (CC-licensed or royalty free for editorial use) for 2018 can be found at  

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