Travel and tourism are among the world's leading economic forces and each journey we take makes a statement about our priorities and commitment to change.
Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of all nations in the developing world and selects the 10 that are doing the best job of promoting human rights, preserving their environment, and creating a sustainable, community-based tourism industry.
It's always an honor to compile this list, co-author and Ethical Traveler executive director Jeff Greenwald said. It gives us great pleasure to express our admiration for these countries, and we hope they'll reap real economic and social benefits as a result of our endorsement.
A project of the Earth Island Institute founded to empower travelers to change the world, Ethical Traveler uses the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment. Their annual list is created in part to encourage travelers to support countries that are making a positive change.
The steady trend we're seeing toward green practices and support for sustainable tourism -- by governments and travelers alike -- is a fantastic development and shows a real coming of age in the international tourism community, Greenwald said.
Many of the destinations on the 2012 list are carryovers from last year's annual report with island nations and South American countries continuing to dominate.
Ethical Traveler studies developing nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe to identify the best tourism destinations among them, all while keying in on environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights.
None of these countries are perfect, researcher Natalie Lefevre noted. But the countries that are on this list deserve their spots thanks to their effort to ensure that tourism has a positive impact on their country and their people.
Press Start to view the top 10 ethical destinations in the developing world.