Latin America is where ecotourism got an early start, and where it remains best represented today. In this essay, brief comparative cases, from the Galápagos to Costa Rica, demonstrate how understanding the value of ecotourism requires consideration of the alternative economic activities and forms of tourism likely to occur in its absence. By distinguishing its relative effectiveness as a strategy for meeting human needs while protecting the environment, we can better understand why the committed application of ecotourism remains a major conservation strategy that environmentalists are promoting over the alternatives and implementing across Latin America.

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