Report says Latvia among world’s best places for ethical travel

Latvia and its southern neighbor are among the developing world’s best places for ethical travel, according to a California-based non-profit organization whose mission is “to use the power of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.”

Ethical Traveler gauged countries in the developing world according to a variety of measures of environmental protection, social welfare and human rights, the organization announced Dec. 9 upon releasing its report.

Latvia and Lithuania scored “particularly high” on the social welfare measure of child mortality rates, according to Ethical Traveler.

However, Ethical Traveler’s report also noted that no country is perfect and said Latvia, Lithuania and Poland should do more to prevent discrimination against ethnic and sexual minorities.

Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are joined in the Top 10 by Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Paulu and Uruguay. Lithuania also made the list last year, as did Argentina, Chile and Poland. Estonia made the list in 2008.

Unclear from Ethical Traveler’s report is what makes a nation “developing” rather than developed. The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook database groups all three Baltic countries among “emerging and developing economies.”

Its list, Ethical Traveler’s report suggests, can be used by tourists to “vote with our wings.”

“These destinations may not always be as glamorous as Paris, or as modern as Singapore,” Ethical Traveler’s Jane Esberg, Jeff Greenwald and Natalie Lefevre wrote in their summary of the results. “But they’re rich in natural wonders, and alive with fascinating culture. They’re also committed to conserving their natural treasures, while building economies that sustain and empower local communities. Our visits to these countries acknowledges these efforts, and inspires neighboring nations to embrace similar values.”

The Ethical Traveler organization, according to its website, “is dedicated to educating travelers about the social and environmental impact of their decisions, showing how travel can be a potent form of diplomacy, and giving travelers a forum through which their united voices can serve the world community.”

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