The Galapagos Islands, located off the coast of Ecuador and home to unique and diverse species, were an inspiration to Darwin.
Now, they act as inspiration to those in need of jobs. Migrants come to work in the tourism industry, which is booming thanks to wealthy travelers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
And who can blame them? The Times says typical wages run 70% higher than on Ecuador's mainland, the public schools are good, and violent crime is nonexistent.
But, the government is now cracking down on illegal workers.
The population of the Galapagos has doubled in the past ten years to reach about 30,000, and the number of visitors has increased tenfold since 1980. The article says: "These tourists, in contrast to the shoestring-budget backpackers of two decades ago, are increasingly affluent."
This is taking its toll on the Islands.
As a result of the population and tourism increase, foreign species such as rats, goats, cats and mosquitoes have been introduced to the islands. This plus sewage and oil discharged from boats threaten the islands' native plants and animals.
UNESCO placed the islands on its "in danger" list last year, but the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa has not elected to cap the number of visitors.
A new strategy is being looked at, according to the Times. Visitation fees may be increased, with the number of visitations freezed. This issue is a tricky one--Galapagos tourism generates about $200 million a year in revenue.
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