I don’t know why people need lists with suggestions for travel destinations. Do people really sit at home without any idea and wait for “the top 10 travel destinations in 2015”, “the most underrated travel destinations this year” and “the best 10 beaches in 2015”? I doubt that. If you have ever looked at a map and seen photos from other countries, you have some kind of idea where you want to go and what is reachable, both geographically and financially.
These lists range somewhere between unnecessary, boring and annoying.
My curiosity was however raised when I read about “the world’s ten best ethical destinations for 2015”. As you know from my travel writing, I am not one of those shallow sunset-and-beach travelers, but I am quite curious about the political, social, economic and environmental situation of the countries I visit and live in.
When I saw the list, I was surprised:
- Cabo Verde
Seven of these are islands, to which most people would fly, thus causing a lot of CO2 to be blown into the atmosphere. That already made me wonder about the methodology behind this list. Did they not consider the environment? But they do. Going through the reasoning behind the list, the creators mention some numbers, mostly goals for renewable energy, or an organic farm here or there.
But what’s the point of an island far away in the Pacific trying to work with renewable energy when travelers are encouraged to visit it by a fuel-burning plane?
This is a general criticism against such a list because whether a trip to anywhere will be ethical by environmental standards obviously depends on the place from which one sets off. I am in Europe at the moment, so it will be quite environmentally friendly to take the train to Budapest. That doesn’t make Budapest an ethical travel destination if everyone else flies in from Australia or South America.
Having said that, picking islands which are very far away from most people still seems to be the most stupid of all available choices. Curiously enough, the study even says: “Climate change affects islands dramatically, so they tend to be very aware of the importance of effective environmental policies.” Yeah, but the makers of the study are apparently not aware of simple geography or of how planes work.
The follow-up sentence “Chile and Uruguay are the only two mainland winners” suggests a problem with geography, because where is Lithuania? It’s not an island, that much I can tell you.
The inconsistencies continue: “Latvia became the second Baltic state to achieve status as a ‘developed country’ and therefore is no longer eligible for our list. In 2014 Latvia changed its national currency to the Euro.” Well, I’ve got news for you: Lithuania has the Euro as well. Was it not a problem in this case because you don’t regard it as a “developed country”? Having lived in Lithuania for a year I can assure you that it is quite developed.
Still, Lithuania maybe shouldn’t be on a list of “ethical travel destinations” because of its reluctance to accept gay travelers. Some of the countries on the list, Dominica, Mauritius, Samoa and Tonga, still have criminal laws penalizing same-sex relations. How is this ethical? The producers of the study respond: “because these laws are very rarely (if ever) enforced, the countries were not disqualified” How comforting for those rare cases in which they are enforced and for all others who have to live in constant fear of being harassed, arrested, beaten up or prosecuted.
This list is a complete load of bullshit!