Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Palau among top 10 ethical destinations

Palau among top 10 ethical destinations
Written by Aurea Gerundio-Dizon
Monday, 23 January 2012  

Palau is again included in the developing world’s top 10 ethical destinations by Ethical Traveler.org, a non-profit organization from Berkeley, California that seeks to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment. Information from its website showed Ethical Traveler “is dedicated to educating travelers about the social and environmental impact of their decisions, showing how travel can be potent form of diplomacy, and giving travelers a forum through which their united voices can serve the world community.”
Every year, Ethical Traveler selects 10 best ethical destinations. For 2012, Palau is among the top 10, with Argentina, The Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Latvia, Mauritius, Serbia and Uruguay. Except Mauritius and Serbia, the rest of the countries also appeared in the 2011 list. In an article released internationally by Ethical Traveler staff, it says that the organization reviews policies and practices of all nations in the developing world every year.

The organization researches on three main categories: environmental protection, social welfare and human rights. Ethical Traveler looks at past and present information to understand not only the current state of a country, but how it has changed over time.  The organization then selects the top ten that are doing the best job of promoting human rights, preserving their environment and creating sustainable, community-based tourism industry. They also visit and explore these ethical destinations using their own funds.

In choosing Palau among the top 10, Ethical Traveler said Palau exhibits such enthusiasm for conservation efforts. The country was chosen as a pilot for The Nature Conservancy’s Transforming Coral Reef Conservation program.  On the social welfare aspect, the organization recognized the free education in Palau, which is mandatory through grade twelve, with support services available for those who do not graduate.

On human rights, the organization recognized Palau as among six nations (with The Bahamas, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica and Uruguay) that have received the highest possible scores from Freedom House in the categories of Political Rights and Civil Liberties and received the highest press freedom score of all ethical destinations countries. Ethical Traveler makes it clear that no money or donations of any kind were solicited from any countries, governments or individuals in the creation of their list.

Ethical Traveler also reminds travelers that no country is perfect. All have their shortcomings. However, the top ten they have selected reportedly determined effort to do the right thing in the areas of environmental protection, social welfare and human rights.  Ethical Traveler said that island states like Palau, The Bahamas, Dominica and Mauritius are again a strong presence in this year’s Top 10 list. The organization explained that one reason for this is these nations’ strong environmental efforts.  Ethical Traveler said these states understand that islands will be very severely impacted by climate change, and are therefore taking the vanguard in progressive environmental policies.

Among sources of information by Ethical Traveler are Freedom House, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, World Bank, Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and the UN Development Program’s Human Development Report.