Are you considering travel to a poor country? How do you know if your tourist dollars will support the local people or hurt them? Every year, Berkeley-based Ethical Traveler selects the 10 developing nations it thinks do the best job of promoting human rights, preserving the environment and creating a community-based tourism industry. Ethical Traveler has just released its list. We’ll discuss why people should head to these countries, and the ethics of tourism. What considerations do you make when you choose where and how to travel?

Ethical Travel's 10 Best Ethical Destinations for 2013

Countries listed In alphabetical order:



Cape Verde

Costa Rica *


Latvia *

Lithuania *

Mauritius *

Palau *


Uruguay *

(* = also appeared on our 2012 list)

Jeff Greenwald, executive director of Ethical Traveler, monologist and author of books including "Snake Lake"
Malia Everette, founder of Altru Vistas, which provides mid-size loans to local communities to get involved in the tourism industry, former director of Reality Tours at Global Exchange and board member of Ethical Traveler
Christy Hoover, chief researcher for Ethical Traveler

  • Frank

    Before you travel, read the book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” in which John Perkins explains how the USA has harmed the poor all across the globe, enslaving their countries with impossible debts for questionable (if not bogus) development projects, eagerly sought by corrupt leaders. Many libraries have this book on CD in addition to print form.

    Here is a 2-minute cartoon that summarizes it:

    • Alex

      I can’t agree with this recommendation. It continues to surprise me that people continue recommending this book. The book reads like a poorly written spy novel. The book is largely anecdotal and it’s impossible to verify, because the only person who knows he is an economic hitman is a seductress who disappears with no record; it’s like a bad version of “this message will now self-destruct.” Perkins is fast and loose with the facts. I don’t even think he provides references, which is strange considering the amount of time he spent in the Boston Public Library doing research for his hitman jobs. There are plenty of great books on the subject of the relationship between developed and developing economy debt, they just don’t get recommended because they don’t have sex and spiritual awakenings.

      • Frank

        While Perkins has spoken widely about how the system works, he is by no means the only person who has described the same debt system and its effects on the world’s poor, including the effects on the poor here in America. Mountains of evidence, even trite stuff taken from the evening TV news, support these arguments. Sounds to me like you have a personal connection to the system and want to discourage people from becoming enlightened.

  • Guest

    Are your guests going to publish the list with more travel details on their website? As of 9:25 a.m. today that info has not been posted yet.

  • catherine

    Hi. Where’s a great place to go for a lazy, luxurious beach vacation that’s also ethical? 🙂

  • Chris

    Are gay-friendly destinations taken into consideration? If so, which countries would you spotlight? If not, why not?

  • Ingrid

    You can be ethical wherever you go. We took our kids to Antigua, Guatemala which is easy and safe for a family. We arranged ahead of time to connect with a non-profit that took us on a tour of Guatemala City’s largest dump and the school that was built to serve the families that work there. My kids enjoyed the lovely and charming Antigua, but it was the tour of the school that stayed with them. They opted to skip Santa this year and donate their gifts to the school.

  • Angel

    Where is perù ?????

  • annajaytee

    cambodia is another destination where you can really help the people by staying in locally owned places. is a registered nonprofit which is building a hotel/school in the gorgeous beachside town of kep. after construction, it will be self supporting with all the revenues going to train orphans and other at-risk young adults in english, hotel, restaurant and other tourism trades so that they can get jobs and support their families/community. very cool!

  • chrisco

    What about the use of jet fuel and global warming? Too much travel seems unethical on this basis, perhaps.

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