The phrase ecotourism seems to be on the lips of many travel agents and corporations looking for new ideas in executive or "yuppie" getaways. But many "civilians" are wondering what ecotourism is and what is expected of them if they do go on a so-called ecotour. Ecotourism is defined in different ways, by different groups of people with different agendas. Many tourists are attracted to the adventure that is associated with many remote, natural areas. Others wish to encourage conservation practices in environmentally sensitive areas, using profits to restore habitat, change public perception through education, and develop community. However, local people also want the opportunity for new jobs and capitalist ventures. No matter how one chooses to look at ecotourism, it is a new element shaping the use of rainforests and other natural settings. Likewise, ecotourism appears to be altering the lifestyles of indigenous peoples and causing certain changes in local animal behaviors.
Ecotourism is generally used when describing any manner of recreation or vacationing in a natural setting. This definition could refer to anything from just staying in a remote area that is seemingly untouched to complete environmental awareness and sensitivity. Ron Mader has developed a rating system for ecotourist involvement and activities. Mader’s level 0 indicates minimal exposure to the delicate ecosystems that they are vacationing in. Level 1 includes monetary support for keeping the area as natural as possible, while level 2 requires some level of personal involvement with the landscape and its care. Mader denotes that all activities in a level 3 ecotourists’ vacation be harmless to the area itself, while level 4 requires that the vaca...
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