The Resident interview with Sr. André Jordan (last week’s edition), on the back of WTTC’s tourism report, is interesting. Unlike him, I cannot comment on Portugal, just the Algarve. Here it is a mess; no transparent policy, no listening to anyone, especially non-Portuguese business, and a complete refusal to learn from others. Three examples:
1) We have just had the car rally. This was covered on Euronews, because it is seen as a European event. But Algarve marketing? There were more GNR than tourists. Why does it (the rally) not move around the Algarve? Why not somewhere more inviting, say, the parking area at Algarve stadium where more can be done near Faro? Why doesn’t the tourist board produce a car sports calendar, plus cycling, etc? Why not promote birdwatching and other events throughout Europe or to target markets? And where is the rural infrastructure to support these events?
2) In the past years, a new dam/reservoir has been built around Sapeira, NE of Silves. There was no attempt to incorporate tourism, wildlife etc., and while the lynx breeding centre is near, there is no idea of a national park or wildlife centre (to see how it can be done, enter Rutland water into a search engine). Worse still, the water board is controlled by the Câmaras. Like the tourism board, the ‘presidente’ is always a politician who needs a salary; NOT an idea how to run the organisation properly!
3) We carry on about our castles and landscape, yet other countries market them better. We cannot learn; whether in policing, education or tourism. We need to learn that others can do better and learn from them. You also highlight unemployment figures, yet tourism is the Algarve’s main employer. We need to be better, more focused… but is anyone listening? Certainly not the tourism board! We had a golden opportunity when the Arab spring meant some competitors were closed to tourism; we wasted the opportunity; others like Croatia did not.
Page 15 (last week’s edition): Is the lady who does not want to be named (Madeleine story) the same person who had a letter last week? And again, with no name given? Has she ever lost a child? I have, but after turning off the life support system and donating his organs, to give life to others, I could bury him and mourn. What about the Portuguese press handling of the saga? What about the failure of the GNR/PJ? Scotland Yard and the specialist child unit, one of the best in the world, should have been brought in immediately but we think only we can do things.
I feel tremendously sorry for the Portuguese couple trying to save their children from UK social workers; whatever the actual facts. Unfortunately, in England and Wales, family courts are secret and bias towards social services (family court judges have also echoed this point) and there is no advocacy service for parents or children.
D Taylor-Smith, by email