News - Travel globally, spend locally
- Travel globally, spend locally - Jeffrey MacDonald/Christian Science Monitor
How do you take an ethical vacation? New tour operators, guidebooks, and
organizations offer a widening and perhaps confusing array of choices.
Travelers with soft spots for low-impact lodging or mom-and-pop merchants
are finding no shortage of options these days as companies around the world
cater to visitors' ethical sensibilities.
Sifting out the legitimate gems, however, isn't easy. Proponents of ethical
travel say hundreds of organizations purport to certify travel operations as
eco-friendly, sustainable, or responsible. "Certifiers" bring highly
variable standards and sometimes conflicting interests to bear on labels
that aren't necessarily in line with consumers' values, critics say.
"With certification of tourism products, they often emphasize the 'eco'
rather than social [factors]," says Ron Mader, founder of Planeta.com, a
website for dialogue among travelers interested in ethics. "You can go to a
very expensive, foreign-owned ecolodge in Costa Rica. Next door could be a
not-so-eco but locally owned place. Which is the better option?" Regional
and national certification programs, he says, rarely address that.
Travelers steer trips in ethical direction