Michael Trout - Jan 18, 2010

Costa Rica would normally be almost at the top of “The Developing World"s 10 Best Ethical Destinations” if it were not for one detail: the country’s thriving underage sex business. The Caribbean nation is unfortunately infamous for playing into the hands of sexual predators.



In terms of ethics, most travel and tourism destinations around the world tend to focus on how a nation relates to the environment, its social actions, political stance and its fights against crime, particularly whereby morals are concerned. Costa Rica passes the first three categories with high scores, yet falls short when it comes to crime. Unlike in 2008 for this reason the country was not included in the acclaimed list of “The Developing World"s 10 Best Ethical Destinations” announced annually by the Ethical Traveler.


Costa Rica is beginning to acquire the same status as places such as Thailand and Vietnam, notoriously known destinations for sex tourism. Indeed, it is becoming a trend around the world that more and more nations are beginning to respect the environment more, yet neglect human rights issues.


Another good example is that of Bhutan. Surveys have suggested that the inhabitants of Bhutan are amongst the happiest in the world. However, the nation continues to have problems with the Nepalese community living along its borders. A decade or so ago, many of these individuals were expelled merely for being of Nepalese origin.


It is somewhat disturbing how many nations have problems with human rights issues. Indeed, the whole planet is littered with disputes about race, origin and territorial problems. In the 2009/2010 list of the best ethical destinations were also some unusual entries. Out of the world’s developing nations, Argentina and the Seychelles appear in the top 10. Other entries include Poland and Lithuania. These two countries have certainly benefited in recent years from joining the European Union and the subsequent increase in the standard of living.




The Developing World"s 10 Best Ethical Destinations (by Ethical Traveler)


In alphabetical order:


















South Africa








Photo: Belize Tourist Board






Top 10 Ethical Destinations 2008

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  1. We are not Puerto Rico... We are part of Central America... and the this is 2005??? we did had some issues with a non costa rican that gave us negative news...

    But as a nation and as part of the tourism industry we have done a great deal of work to fight this reputation that was beign built. SO please do not look at the past... see what we are doing today, we have better laws, programs to educate the industry (my hotel staff know that we donot sale rooms to Gringos with local teen girls... we actually will call the cops)... there is a national effort from the national government, the ICT, the national chamber of tourism and us the hotel, tour operators...owners.

    PANIAMOR did a 5 year campaign....

    (Costa Rica)

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