“Contesting ‘Community’ in a Community Conservation Project: The Fight for the Reserva Santa Elena” defined ecotourism as ‘…when conservation projects benefit local communities, and are set up with an infrastructure that vests control within local communities, that genuine ecotourism is achieved,’ (Vivanco 2006, 133). This article focused on the meaning of the word “community” and how the different ways it is defined can impact ecotourism. Santa Elena Reserve was created when members of the community decided they wanted to share more of the benefits tourism brought and use them to further benefit the development of the community. However, the author describes how the early years of Santa Elena Reserve did not reflect any involvement or control by the community. The “master plan” for the project was even created by a student from Duke University! It was mainly outside organizations that worked to create the reserve as a place for tourism. There is not way to ensure that the local community of a conservation initiative is truly represented in an experience. Vivanco describes the main problem being the multiple meanings of the concept of a local community and how this concept is vague and flexible. This is an example of how ecotourism leads participants to believe that they are having an experience that is true to the community when in fact they are having an experience that was most likely constructed by the people who are trying to make a profit off of the local community.
Vivanco, L. (2006). Contesting “Community” in a Community Conservation Project: The Fight for the Reserva Santa Elena, Ch. 6. In Green Encounters: Shaping and Contesting Environmentalism in Rural Costa Rica (pp. 129-152).