Ethical Traveler is a nonprofit organization founded to "empower travelers to change the world." We seek to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment.
There is a growing need for travelers to play an active role in the world we explore. We believe that motivated travelers, with an understanding of our planet’s social and environmental concerns, can be instrumental in creating a better world.
We are dedicated to educating travelers about the social and environmental impact of their decisions, showing how travel can be a potent form of diplomacy, and giving travelers a forum through which their united voices can serve the world community.
We are a global alliance of world travelers, local travelers, travel agents, tour outfitters and other travel industry professionals. But members of the ET community are also—most importantly—world citizens who want to learn how they can make this planet a wonderful place to continue exploring.
We are raising awareness of the interdependency between travelers and the places they travel to. Our signature work focuses on well-researched campaigns that harness our members’ combined actions to promote social justice and environmental conservation. We also have a news department that produces and aggregates articles on topics related to ethical travel.
Ethical Traveler is a project of the Earth Island Institute, based in San Francisco. We maintain our own staff, and a Board of Advisors possessing a broad range of expertise in the fields of travel, environment, economy, health and world policy.We partner and consult with dozens of other groups whose projects overlap with, and are affected by, the economics of the travel industry.
The seeds for Ethical Traveler were planted in 1996, when author and journalist Jeff Greenwald—Ethical Traveler's founder—wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post supporting the boycott of tourism to Burma. In the essay, he called upon the community of travelers to "vote with their wings," and use their combined power to chastise the military government that had imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi.
In August 2002, at a reading promoting his anthology Scratching the Surface, Greenwald was asked about Burma. A lively discussion ensued, and the idea of a travelers' alliance to address such global issues was greeted with great enthusiasm. The idea was researched by Krista Haimovitch, who discovered there was no such organization in existence.
An active and respected member of the world travel community for over 25 years, award-winning author of six travel books and hundreds of articles, Greenwald was compelled to direct his passionately humanitarian voice towards creating such a traveler's alliance. In recent years, Greenwald has been joined by a team of committed others to bring this idea to life.