New report reveals global ethical tourism destinations

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The Independent Online

A new report released December 3 has recommended the top ten destinations in the developing world for ethical tourism.

The 2009-2010 list, compiled by Ethical Traveler Magazine, included four countries in Africa, four in South America and two in Europe. The report's authors Jeff Greenwald and Christy Hoover say that tourism to these countries should be encouraged, as each has proved that they are serious about preserving natural assets and building an economy in which local people benefit from tourist revenue.

"There's no doubt that worldwide interest in mindful, responsible travel is growing - not only among travelers, but within the countries that host us," said Jeff Greenwald, executive director of Ethical Traveler and co-author of the report. "Now is the perfect time for savvy travelers and well-intentioned governments to evolve together, each encouraging the other."

Particular praise was given to Ghana, a new entry on the list, for an impressive commitment to genuine democracy. The authors also singled out Suriname for sincere efforts towards ecotourism and environmental developments. Several countries have dropped off the top ten list since the previous report in 2008 - Bolivia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica were removed due to a rise in child trafficking or sex tourism, whilst Nicaragua has been dropped after 2008 elections that were widely believed to be fraudulent.

Asian countries are also notable for their absence, despite the number of developing nations in the region and the rapidly-growing popularity of countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and India. Last year, Malaysia was 11th most popular tourist destination in the world. Ethical Traveler cited "irresponsible development, human rights abuses, and a lack of strong environmental policy" as justification for excluding the entire region.

In alphabetical order, the best ethical travel destinations for 2010 are:
South Africa