Ecotourism and protected area visitation in Central and South America have resulted in ecological impacts, which some protected areas managers have addressed by employing visitor impact management frameworks. In this paper, we propose the Protected Area Visitor Impact Management (PAVIM) framework as an alternative to carrying capacity and other frameworks such as Limits of Acceptable Change. We use a set of evaluation criteria to compare the relative positive and negative attributes of carrying capacity, other decision-making frameworks and the new framework, within the context of their actual and potential use in Central and South America. Positive attributes of PAVIM include simplicity, flexibility, cost effectiveness, timeliness, and incorporating input from stakeholders and local residents. Negative attributes include diminished objectivity and cultural sensitivity issues. Further research and application of PAVIM are recommended.