Research Projects

Domhnall Melly

Graduated 2021

Tourists as vectors of potential Biosecurity threats in Ireland.


Tourist vectoring of potential biosecurity threats represent substantial biosecurity risk for Ireland. Tourists’ inadvertently transporting infectious diseases and invasive alien species (IAS) can have serious implications for human and environmental health, with ramifications for economic and socio-cultural wellbeing within host communities. COVID-19 has brought biosecurity to the forefront of global concern, particularly tourists that can vector infectious disease into Ireland from anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. This can bring about national and international outbreaks of infectious disease causing vast human morbidity, mortality, and the loss of an entire tourist season. Environmentally, the rate of biological invasions occurring through tourist vectoring is notably increasing worldwide. This can have serious consequences for native biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and economically from the costly control and eradication projects that are often unsuccessful.

This research examines tourists acting as vectors of potential biosecurity threats in Ireland and investigates the provision of planning and management in place. Ireland’s biosecurity preparedness from a tourism perspective is of significant importance considering the rapid global transmission of COVID-19 and indeed IAS from an environmental perspective. However, the lack of a specific national biosecurity plan or strategy that incorporates tourism speaks volumes for the extent of Ireland’s preparedness which is lacking in proactive tourist communication, vector mitigation measures, pathway management, or any measures at the three border stages. This is particularly evident when comparisons are made with New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii. This could have significant implications for Ireland’s sustainability as a tourist destination; not to mention the unprecedented implications to human and environmental health from a biosecurity breach. The findings of this research will facilitate the opportunity to develop a robust tourism biosecurity planning and management model that fully incorporates tourist vectoring. Tourism planners and policymakers will now hold the key to mark a significant milestone for Ireland’s biosecurity and destination sustainability going forward.


Melly, D. Hanrahan, J. (2018). ‘The Potential Role of Smart Mobile Technology in Mitigating Ireland’s Tourism Biosecurity Risk’. Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Vol.6, No.6, pp.264-280

Melly, D. Hanrahan, J. (2019). ‘Biosecurity Risk and Tourist Communication in Ireland’. European Journal of Tourism Research, Vol.22, pp.45-61

Melly, D. Hanrahan, J. (2020). Tourism Biosecurity Risk Management and Planning: An International Comparative Analysis and Implications for Ireland. Tourism Review, Vol.75, No.1.

Melly, D. Hanrahan, J. (2020). ‘Tourist Biosecurity Awareness and Risk Mitigation for Outdoor Recreation: Management Implications for Ireland’. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, Vol.31, No.100313.


Melly, D. Hanrahan, J. (2017), ‘Entrepreneurs Potential Role in Mitigating Tourism Biosecurity Risk in Ireland’, presented at the 13th Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference in Sligo Institute of Technology, (THRIC 2017).

Melly, D. Hanrahan, J. (2018), ‘The Potential Role of Smart Mobile Technology in Mitigating Ireland’s Tourism Biosecurity Risk’, presented at the 14th Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference in Waterford Institute of Technology, (THRIC 2018).

Melly, D. Hanrahan, J. (2019). Assessing Irelands Tourism Biosecurity Risk Planning: An International Comparative Analysis. presented at the 15th Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland Conference in Athlone Institute of Technology, (THRIC 2019).