Appropriately titled ‘Tourism - Responding to the Effects of Climate change and High Impact Events’, the one-day event brought together some 13 presenters and officials, who addressed a wide range of topics relating to the theme.

Organised jointly by crime prevention and safety awareness association Safe Communities Portugal, the ANEPC (National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection) and Turismo de Portugal national tourism board, it aimed to explore how all parties, working together, can ensure the safety of tourists in light of increasingly recurring extreme weather phenomena and unforeseen ‘high impact events’ like natural disasters.

With such occurrences posing challenges to countries around the world, and with Portugal no exception, the event addressed the importance of implementing measures to anticipate conditions and mitigate their effects through risk assessment to protect both residents and visitors in the event of disasters.

Subjects included changing weather patterns that give rise to high risk conditions such as forest fires and flooding; health risks during and in the aftermath of rural fires and other disasters; the ‘Portugal Chama – A Call to Action’ campaign; the ANEPC’s major contingency plans; communication during crisis situations, and Faro airport emergency planning.

Panel discussions and moderated debates also focussed on the importance of public communications in times of crisis situations.

ABTA Senior Destinations Executive Donner Boucher travelled to Portugal especially for the event and gave an in-depth presentation on how ABTA liaises with its associates to prevent and intervene in situations of emergencies and catastrophes.

Also attending the event were the President of the IPMA Met Office; AGIF Head of Communications, representatives of the British Embassy and the State Secretary for Tourism, Dr. Ana Mendes Godinho, who brought the day’s proceedings to an informative and enthusiastic conclusion with her detailed closing speech.

British Consul, Simona Demuro, and Vice Consul Clive Jewell attended the conference, where Ms. Demuro addressed crisis response in the FCO and British Embassies around the world.

David Thomas, president and founder of Safe Communities Portugal, thanked all those who attended, and said: “We hope that this provided a learning opportunity for those who attended and an impetus for further action within the tourism industry”.