Top 10 Ethical Travel Destinations? I doubt that.

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
  • Chile
  • Dominica
  • Lithuania
  • Mauritius
  • Palau
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu

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.

Maybe you can swim there?

Maybe you can swim 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!

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Human Rights, Lithuania, Philosophy, Politics, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Top 10 Ethical Travel Destinations? I doubt that.

  1. Good analysis mate – from personal experience Samoa, Tonga and Uruguay should not be on the list for a host of reasons that I will spare you. Also agree on your points about tolerance in Lithuania having spent extended periods in Vilnius and Klaipeda. Outside the main urban centres modernity takes a nosedive though. The choice I most agree with is Chile. Your environmentally oriented selection process is sound IMHO – it was obviously amateur day at the authors location when they were applying their selection criteria for this and weighting their scores.

    • Thanks a lot!
      Or maybe they were suggesting going to all these islands by a rowing boat?
      And I notice that you get around much more than me…

    • Walking the earth – always have – being stationary doesn’t suit me – at least that is what the shrink said :) Here are some practical travel guides that have a basis in actual reality from people who went there as opposed to desk jockeys forming opinions from infographics: “The Most Dangerous Travel Destinations For Women Revealed” at and one of my own re-published with the permission of Gordon Bottomley at “The places you’re most likely to get kidnapped” at – finally the three most generally dangerous cities in the world for everyone except Chuck Norris are officially Bogota, Mexico City and Lima. Peace.

  2. djgarcia94 says:

    Costa Rica often makes these lists, which is interesting considering an estimated 20% of visitors are sex tourists.

  3. Itada Kimasu says:

    Fucking each other in the ass hole, how is this ethical?

  4. vidavidav says:

    I can not agree more with you on planes. I think you can be gay and come to LT. There are even celebrities people like gay and transsexuals in LT. You just do not stand and shout I am gay in the middle of the street. But I do not do that also being straight. Well at least up to now :D

    • Of course Lithuania is not generally unsafe for homosexuals. It’s not Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

      It’s not about shouting in public, but this is a list for travelers who may travel as a homosexual couple who might want to share a room in a hotel or hug or kiss (not only on a honeymoon). The shouting usually comes from those who shout “perverts” or other insults, sadly.

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