Your Hard Earned Dollars Can Make the World a Better Place

Isn’t it good to know that your travel dollars go a long way and can hold enormous power? Tourism has been and continues to be one of the main sources of income for many countries, giving you the leverage to choose to visit destinations that are conscientious about ethical, environmental and moral practices. When travelers deliberately stop visiting destinations or cultural practices that don’t meet such standards, governments of countries are forced to pay attention and implement positive change.

The Latin America Travel Company, the think tank behind  Travel Morality Index, which is a ranking of destinations that meet the highest morality standards, recently announced this year’s list of countries that made the list for being the most ethical. The ranking is based on a review of ethical practices of a country such as human rights protection score; animal rights legislation; Gender Equality; Workers’ Rights; Global Peace Index and Positive Wellbeing. If you are looking to make a positive impact in this world with your travel dollars, here are the 10 countries that came out on top of the Travel Morality Index.

1. Germany

Germany emerged as the top country in the world for ethical travelers.

Germany is a contracting party to the UN’s essential human rights treaties and their Additional Protocols which include anti-racism, women’s rights, anti- torture, children’s rights and rights of persons with disabilities. In 1994, German Constitution declared environmental protection as a “state objective” which means the country strives to safeguard the environment and natural resources of the benefit of future generations.

2. Austria

Historic town of Salzburg with Salzach river in summer, Austria
Photo via bluejayphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A central European country known for its music, Mozart’s birthplace, discipline and charming mountain villages, Austria earned the number two slot on the Travel Morality Index. Similar to Germany, it ranked very high in the categories of Human Rights Protection; Animal Welfare, Gender Equality, and Workers’ Rights.

3. Iceland

Reykjavik capital city of iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland. (photo via patpongs/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Iceland earned spot number three on the index, however, regrettably, the country has a very low score for animal welfare protection, the report points out, with only the most basic national laws in place to protect animals. Iceland is known for its glacial lakes, erupting geysers and black sand beaches. The country is also known to suffer from “overtourism” which means too many visitors landing in one particular destination at the same time.  If you plan traveling to Iceland, don’t travel during peak season which is July and August. Also, take a tour as opposed to going on your own as the reputable tour companies tend to go through off-the-beaten path.

4. The Netherlands

Photo via Yasonya/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Netherlands is often at, or near, the top in international civil liberties and political rights rankings. Human rights in Netherlands are codified in the Dutch constitution. Like Iceland, The Netherlands is also afflicted by overtourism. The country attracts over 14 visitors each year and since it prides itself for being a “tolerant country”, the government has taken interesting approach to curb tourism by subtly moving tourists away from the most popular attractions like the Red Light District and rebranded some lesser known attractions to entice travelers to steer clear of popular places to visit.

5. New Zealand

New Zealand, featured in “Lord of the Rings”, is famous for its welcoming and accepting predisposition. A campaign urging New Zealanders to refuse to spread intolerance was launched in 2017 by some of the country’s celebrities: “How we treat other people will define what kind of country we become and what kind of person a New Zealander is”. Although 95% of people in New Zealand believe tourism has helped the economy immensely, the country is nervous about the adverse effects of tourism. To counter this, the country has launched the “Tiaki Promise” which asks visitors to act in a considerate and respectful manner and states: “When traveling in New Zealand, I will care for land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace. Travel safely, showing care and consideration for all. Respect culture, traveling with an open heart and mind”. 

6. Canada

The U.S. News & World Report ranked Canada the third best country in the world on the list for being the best country for women and cultural inclusion and celebrating diversity.  The country also ranked the sixth best by Vision of in global state of peace among 84 countries. Canada prides itself for welcoming diversity and co-existing. 

7. Belgium

According to the 2019 Best Countries Report, people in Belgium are viewed as caring about the environment and human rights. Belgium is considered a high income country and offers relatively high standard of living for its citizens as well as healthcare and high standards for education. 

8. Finland

Finland, famous for its Northern Lights, was ranked the happiest country to live according to a UN report in 2018. It is a poster child for standard in many ways when it comes to morality. Finland consistently ranks above average among the world’s countries in areas such as democracy, freedom of press, and human development.

9. Czech Republic

This Central European country with 12 UNESCO cultural heritage sites has  nicknamed itself “UNESCO Superpower”. The country is also famous for its native beers and the fascinating capital of Prague. It ranks the 6th most peaceful country, while achieving strong performance in democratic governance with the lowest unemployment rate of EU members.

10. Denmark

The Scandinavian country tops the charts for quality of life and contentment. In the span of several years, the country has focused on important social issues from freedom of expression and religion to eliminating racism, and children’s rights. More recently, Denmark’s government has turned its attention to corporate social responsibility.

….. 21. United States

The United States, with all of its various headline-making challenges of late, came in quite far down the list, at number 21, just behind Chile.

Thanks for reading our blog!

See you soon,

Michelle Hacoobei, Owner

M&H Distinctive Journeys

[email protected]


  • Hilda Hacoobei

    This is a guest post by Hilda Hacoobei. Hilda Hacoobei is a designer of experience through travel.

    Hi! I am the owner of M&H Distinctive Journeys, a luxury travel agency that handles individual travel as well as groups of all sizes including multigenerational family travel, wine tourism, bike journeys, golf journeys, destination weddings, villa vacations, retreats, corporate incentive travel or just about any other group travel by offering value based service.