The Meaning of Ecotourism
Ecotourism is an environmental and community focused alternative to mainstream, mass tourism. It adds a more active role to tourism, instead of simply visiting an exotic locale, and taking pictures, ecotourism provides individuals with the opportunity to make a difference. The often quoted definition of ecotourism is, "responsible travel to natural areas that conserved the environment and improves the well-being of local people." For people who participate in ecotourism, there are certain principles that should be followed which include providing financial benefits for the local people in the country, providing direct financial benefits for conservation of the country and preserving the natural resources of the countries as well as helping the local communities. Ecotourism can come in many forms, but the driving principle is the things that you will be doing will benefit the environment or a particular community in a planned way. By this definition going river rafting can be considered ecotourism, if the event is designed to raise funds or increase awareness about an environmental issue in the forest.
For most true environmentalist however, it would be hard to argue that rafting down a river is of any great significance to helping the environment. It is a widely held belief that ecotourism is term coined, and commercialized in order to be another form of consumerism. Many argue that ecotourism programs are actually degrading to environmentalism and offer a negative impact, when they promote a positive one. Some forms of ecotourism are actually focused on change and are not overly commercialized. These more pure forms of ecotourism restore legitimacy to the word and they practice responsible travel to fragile, pristine areas that are small scaled. These programs not only educate the traveler(s), but to help raise funds for conservation and increase the economic development of small local communities. The goal is to provide future generations with the opportunity to go to areas that remain pure of human intervention.