More questions than answers

WHEN THE topic for a working seminar is “What is the future of tourism in the Algarve for small businesses?” and when listed speakers include the secretary of State for Tourism, interest and passions will inevitably run high. When the Secretary of State sends his apologies and an adviser to give his speech; when two of the three speakers are clearly fading with flu and when set briefs are not adhered to, frustration takes the place of passion.

So it was for this ground-breaking seminar organised by Network, the business women’s association, in conjunction with the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. Some 200 local business people flocked to the Dom Pedro Forum in Vilamoura to get a grasp on what the powers that be consider to be the future for tourism in 2005, following what is commonly accepted to be the disastrous year in 2004.

Many came with questions and personal stories in their pockets, ready to challenge the Minister. They were thwarted, but the panel members – AHETA President Elidérico Viegas, CEO of Quinta do Lago Domingos da Silva and adviser to the Secretary of State for Tourism, Alexandra Gonçalves – did take questions from the audience and this prompted a very lively debate about a number of issues.

Summing up, Network President, Verna Kinder, said that it was clear that tourism was a topic that influenced the lives of a huge majority of businesspeople in the region. It was the first such seminar with eminent speakers, which was clearly appreciated by the audience.

Similar events are vital for the future and, having laid the foundation, the pathway is clear for more to be done. The level of interest shown proves that there needs to be more events to give businesspeople the opportunity to meet and question policymakers.

Information and leads given from the stage would be made available to all delegates, including details of funding for tourism projects and a questionnaire to lead forward and answer outstanding questions.

There may have been more questions than answers, but the seminar has certainly set the scene for more lively debates in the region during the year!

• If you would like to know more about Network, please call 282 458 257.