10 Breathtaking Places For Ethical Travel

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Traveling Can Change The World

Travel, according to California-based non-profit organization Ethical Traveler, now comes with a trillion-dollar annual footprint. Which means mindful travel holds enormous power towards making positive change in the world.

With this in mind, the group have unveiled their list of the world's top ethical travel destinations to head to in 2016. The idea? In choosing to visit these places, travelers can use purchasing sway to effect positive change in the world. It helps that these locales are equally breathtaking.

This year's winners, for instance, have all made significant green-energy efforts. Six of them are island nations, a continuing trend for the top ten list; as islands are more acute to climate changes, the importance of environmental protection also kicks in. All of them take an active and progressive stance towards improving the state of their people, the government and the environment — and also have much in the way of natural offerings, outdoor activities and the opportunity for meaningful interactions with local people and cultures.

Determined from Ethical Traveler's annual survey of the policies and practices in the world's many developing nations, both the current and past state of a country are considered; country scores from information sources including Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, UNICEF and the World Bank are taken into account. The final top ten list is chosen from 25 shortlisted countries.

The top ten ethical travel destinations are, in no particular order,

Dominica: One of the few Caribbean nations to resist the whaling industry, a new compulsory primary school curriculum educates kids to care for marine life, including whales. Literacy is at 94% of the population. Free healthcare and a hospital partnership with nearby islands increases the nation's quality of emergency care. But it has yet to decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships.

Samoa: As part of the Small Island Developing States coalition with Tonga, FS Micronesia, Grenada and Tuvalu, it pushes for climate change action. Its installation of new solar plants last year sees it well on its way to achieve 100% sustainable energy by 2017.

Cabo Verde: The African island nation targets to draw half of all its energy needs from renewable sources before 2020. Many women also take up leadership positions in both public and private sectors here; there is also a high chance that it will elect its first female Prime Minister this year.

Grenada: The 'Island of Spice' in the Caribbean is pro-active towards the protection of coral reefs. It is a new addition to the 2016 list for its progress towards the consideration of LGBT decriminalization.

Tonga: The Polynesian kingdom is building solar arrays on nine of its outer islands.

Mongolia: Mongolia is the first developing nation in mainland Asia to make it to the list. Conservation efforts by the government to protect the environment from the mining boom can be improved; in partnership with the UK government and Zoological Society of London, Mongolia is looking to stem the wildlife trade with tougher law enforcement.

Tuvalu: The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill criminalizing domestic violence was passed by Tuvalu’s parliament last year. Tuvalu is also part of The Vulnerable 20 (V20) which looks at applying innovation to climate finance.

Panama: Its new national animal welfare law regulates performing animals in circuses, while prohibiting bullfighting, dogfighting, greyhound racing and hare coursing. Unemployment rates are under 5%, and life expectancy is high, averaging at 79 years.

Uruguay: While Uruguay needs further work on the protecting savannas from large-scale ranching, it is a stellar performer in green energy. 90% of its electricity was powered by renewable sources in 2015. It has plans to power all its public transport with electric energy, plus build the world’s first fully sustainable airport.

Federated States of Micronesia: The country set in the western Pacific Ocean has passed 78 acres of forested wetland in the Yela Valley to be protected. While trafficking remains problematic, it has retained at a Tier 2 ranking. The nation will grow renewable energy to 30% or more by 2020.

This article was previously published by Low Lai Chow on blouinartinfo.com.