Ecotourism represents a set of principles that have been successfully implemented in various global communities, and are supported by extensive industry and academic research. The following definition of ecotourism, established by TIES in 1990, is the most widely used and recognized definition of ecotourism: "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people" (TIES, 1990). Ecotourism is an important and growing segment of the global tourism industry that is making significant positive contributions to the environmental, social, cultural and economic well-being of destinations and local communities around the world. Furthermore, ecotourism has provided an impetus to assist in greening the tourism industry on many fronts.
Twenty years ago, Corporate America and environmentalists squared off regularly and acrimoniously across the globe. Today, large companies can't stop talking about their green initiatives, and groups like Rainforest Alliance (RA) deserve a slice of the credit.