Friday, March 14, 2014

Three Caribbean nations on the list of the top 10 most ethical travel destinations in the world - 2013

Bahamas Among 10 Most Ethical Destinations

by Ianthia Smith
Jones Bahamas
Nassau, The Bahamas

The Bahamas has been voted one of the top 10 most ethical travel destinations in the world, according to non-profit organisation Ethical Traveler.

The 2013 report noted that The Bahamas won its way onto the list by making efforts to reduce human trafficking and expand national parks and protected areas, such as the Andros West Side National Park, which grew from 882,000 acres to nearly 1.3 million acres.

In addition to more standard criteria like unspoiled natural beauty and authentic cultural experiences, researchers judged destinations on 35 metrics in four categories: environment protection, social welfare, human rights, and for the first time, animal welfare.

“In other words, judges considered quality of drinking water in the category of environmental protection, women’s rights in the category of human rights, and so on,” the report read.

The complete top 10 list for 2013, in alphabetical order, includes The Bahamas, Barbados, Cape Verde, Chile, Dominica, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau and Uruguay.

Ethical Traveler does not rank the countries within the top 10.

“The Bahamas was also awarded for its intention to set aside 20 per cent of its territorial waters as marine protects areas; the government achieved results in the proactive identification and assistance of trafficking victims and launched its first prosecution under its human trafficking law; The Bahamas gets top ratings for both political rights and civil liberties overall in the 2013 scores,” the report added.

“The constitution, other laws, and domestic policies protect religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally respected religious freedom. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. The Bahamas has an independent press and a relatively effective – albeit extremely backlogged – judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system and a number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction.”

While The Bahamas made its way onto the list, the country lost points in several areas.

“The government has not yet reported a conviction of a trafficking offender,” the 2013 Ethical Traveler report read. “Reported incidents of police killings of six people in disputed circumstances and the failure to adhere to the call by the UN to stop involuntary returns of Haitian nationals; poor ratings for gender inequality according to the UN; the criminal code still discriminates against gay, lesbian and bisexual people in that the legal age of consent to engage in homosexual conduct is 18 years, while the legal age of consent to engage in heterosexual conduct is 16 years.”

Three countries that fell off the list from 2013 – Costa Rica, Ghana and Samoa – slid backward on key metrics such as environmental protection and human rights violations.

“We feel that we can make a difference in those countries because they really want to try to do the right thing,” Ethical Traveler’s Founder and Executive Director Jeff Greenwald said. “If we can send more travellers there because of their good policies, we think they’ll really stand up and take notice.”

March 13, 2014

The Bahama Journal