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Promoting human rights through travel

Promoting human rights through travel

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SALT LAKE CITY — The largest industry isn't oil or mining, but tourism, accounting for nine percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product.

In a recent visit to Westminster College in Salt Lake City, the director of said he wants people to encourage support of human rights improvements by putting those travel dollars to good use.

"Individuals can change the world," Jeff Greenwald says. "Travel is a huge opportunity for engagement with people in other countries. Tourists become 'accidental ambassadors' both good and bad."

The tourism industry brings in $1.2 trillion a year. Greenwald encourages spending that money in developing nations where human rights and the environment are respected to send a message to other countries lagging behind.

Greenwald says it's clear that money does make a difference, pointing out that Burma's newly-elected leader in 1995 urged tourists not to visit her country for fear that money was being used to buy bullets and fuel violence there.

What follows is more advice from

A few tips* to keep in mind when travelling to other countries:

  1. Learn basic greetings in the native language
  2. Remember the economic realities of your new currency - a small amount of money for you could be a large amount for the person with whom you are bargaining
  3. Learn and respect the host country's traditions and taboos *For a full list go to The 10 Best Travel Destinations for 2015 (for ethics): (in alphabetical order)

  1. Cabo Verde (formerly known as Cape Verde) -- combats child labor and has no death penalty
  2. Chile -- has strong freedoms for press, speech and religion; female president; a majority of government offices are held by women; the country encourages solar energy production
  3. Dominica -- strong freedoms of speech, press and religion and strong stands against discrimination
  4. Lithuania -- uses 22% renewable energy sources; big on civil rights
  5. Mauritius -- Greenwald describes it as the 'freest' country in all of Africa
  6. Palau -- All land and property is inherited through the woman's bloodline
  7. Samoa -- leads the nations in fighting climate change; recognizes a third gender (men who prefer to be women)
  8. Tonga --they regulate their sea bed to manage coral and support a free press
  9. Uraguay -- has a 100% human and civil rights record; uses 80% renewable energy sources
  10. Vanuatu -- happiest country in the world, according to the Happy Planet Index For more information about those destinations, click here.

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