Tourism is a major source of income for the Galapagos, providing funding for the National Park and Marine Reserve which protect the islands' wildlife.
This new research highlights how the cost of tourism could outweigh its benefits if the constant threat of introduced disease pathogens remains unchecked.
"Few tourists realise the irony that their trip to Galapagos may actually increase the risk of an ecological disaster," says Leeds University's Simon Goodman, one of the authors of the study.
"That we haven't already seen serious disease impacts in Galapagos is probably just a matter of luck. The Ecuadorian government recently introduced a requirement for all aircraft flying to Galapagos to have insecticide treatment, but the effectiveness hasn't yet been evaluated, and similar measures still need to be introduced for ships. With tourism growing so rapidly, the future of Galapagos hangs on the ability of the Ecuadorian government to maintain stringent biosecurity protection for the islands."
|Contact: Jo Kelly|
University of Leeds