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The Portugal News newspaper

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The Portugal News newspaper

Post by Pedro Silva on Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:04 am

My friends, this was taken from The Portugal News newspaper:

British respond to alternative tourism

The British market is responding to alternative tourism proposals in Portugal, such as gastronomy and nature, the country’s Secretary of State for Tourism has said.

More and more of the British public are realising that Portugal is not just sun, beach and good weather but that it also has a range of other things such as gastronomy, nature, cultural tourism and a series of products that they are getting to know,” said Cecília Meireles.

Traditionally, British tourists seek out the Algarve and Madeira but campaigns to promote other regions are starting to give results.

“Although there is very substantial growth, of around two figures, in those regions, the truth is that there are other regions, such as the Alentejo and Central Portugal, that are also seeing growth because they were regions that the British public know less about and are now exploring,” she added.

After a fall of 2.3 percent in overnight stays by British tourists between 2009 and 2010, these have increased 18.5 percent between 2010 and 2011, more than double the national average of 8.1 percent.

Cecília Meireles took part in the World Travel Market last week in London, one of the largest tourism and travel fairs in the world which took place between 7 and 10 November.

Portugal’s stand maintained the same slogan as last year ‘Prove Portugal’, meaning ‘Try or Taste Portugal’, as a way of “enriching and differentiating our offer,” said Mrs. Meireles.

“That means showcasing our gastronomy, our wines, and putting Portugal on the map as the country that has the best fish in the world,” she said, adding that there are also other products, “such as nature and activities like bird watching and culture.”
Throughout the four day event, Portugal’s stand served coffee and traditional pastries (‘pastéis de nata’), as well as offering tastings of olive oil, cheeses, port wine, and canapés with tinned fish and meats, finishing off with Portuguese cocktails.

The stand included a tasting area manned by three teachers and eight students from the Lisbon, Lamego and Portimão schools of Hotels and Tourism, and a ‘gourmet’ ice cream parlour with 10 flavours related to Portuguese gastronomy.

Cecília Meireles believersthat Portuguese tourism should continue to focus on this “different offer” to compete with other “sun and sea” destinations.

The World Travel Market is one of the main tourism and travel fairs in the world, with a total of 183 exhibitors and around 40,000 visitors each year.

During her first time participating in this event since taking on her government role, Cecília Meireles met with representatives of airlines, British journalists and tour operators.

The aim is to understand “what the flip side of the coin is, or be it what do they [tourists] think is going well in Portugal and what can we eventually improve on.”
Portugal’s State of Secretary for Tourism also aims to discuss with specialists, strategies for the government to develop the residential tourism sector.
Portuguese wine producers want to capture Macao market

Some 30 Portuguese wine-makers are taking part, for the first time, in the Canton Interwine fair to help stimulate a potential market of about 80 million people with a growing middle class, Miguel Nora

ViniPortugal manager for Europe and Asia said.

ViniPortugal is the Portugal’s wine trade association. This bet on China follows efforts by “some producers that are well established in Hong Kong and Macao”, that take advantage of the geographical proximity of Guangdong, said Nora. Guangdong, however, is part of mainland China and is governed by different import rules from the two former colonies, where there are no taxes. Although the volume of sales is still small “China is now the 15th market for Portuguese wine”, after sales leapt 93% in 2010”, the association said.
Crime up, accidents down means more speed cameras

The Minister of Home Affairs Miguel Macedo made several frank and candid admissions during the final appraisal this week of the budget awarded to his ministry. In particular two stood out: that crime is rising and will continue to do so in 2012 and that millions will be invested by the government in purchasing speed radar equipment.
Despite Portugal's road collision statistics being at an all-time low, which is being attributed not only to better driving practices and safer cars, but also the increasing number of motorists using public transport and minimising trips with their cars, the cash-strapped government is looking to make driving even safer by purchasing radar speed cameras throughout the country.

Minister Miguel Macedo however admitted there has been a steady rise in "serious, violent and organised" crime, which many observers say is to a certain extent due to the financial difficulties currently being experienced by millions of Portuguese.

Nonetheless, the Minister revealed that the National Civil Protection Authority will see its budget reduced by 2.6 percent to 126 million euros, while Border Police and the Immigration Office (SEF) will have 3.4 percent less in funding to work with next year.

Some of the cuts in these funds to these institutions will however be passed on to the GNR and PSP, whose numbers will rise by six hundred officers in real terms, taking into consideration the retirement of five hundred officers.

Overall, the PSP police force will see its budget rise by 7.7 percent while the GNR will see its coffers boosted by four percent in relation to last year.
Three Portuguese MEPs shortlisted for 2011 awards

Three Portuguese MEPs have been shortlisted for the Best Member of the European Parliament prizes 2011, run by the parliament magazine.

Maria da Graça Carvalho (PSD) was nominated for Research and Innovation, Marisa Matias (Left Bloc) for the Health area and Regina Bastos (PSD) for Employment and Social Affairs. The winners will be awarded their prizes on 29 November at a ceremony.
Criminal caught with cocaine clothes

Judiciary (PJ) police have arrested a foreign 23 year-old man at Oporto’s Sá Carneiro airport after finding 20 kilogrammes of clothing impregnated with cocaine in his luggage.

Speaking to Lusa News Agency, a police spokesman said that the man was arrested on 12 November as part of a border control inspection.
The man, who is suspected of using airlines to traffic drugs, arrived at the Portuguese airport from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, with the drugs he carried being destined for Europe.

Following his arrest, the suspect was remanded in custody pending trial.

The exact amount of cocaine the suspect was carrying “has not yet been established,” as it was impregnated into the clothing, the PJ spokesman said.
Airport traffic rises 7.8% in Portugal this year

Passenger numbers at Portuguese airports increased by 3.6 percent last month, compared to the same period in 2010, with an overall increase of 7.8 percent since the beginning of the year, airport management company ANA revealed on Wednesday.

A total of 2.5 million passengers travelled through Portuguese airports in October, which equates to the 3.6 percent increase compared to October 2010.

In market terms, ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal highlights the UK, Spain, Brazil and France and low cost airline Ryanair as the main reasons for the increase.

ANA adds that the tendency for growth was not seen at all airports, because while Francisco Sá Carneiro, Lisbon and Faro airports saw passenger numbers increase by 9.5, 2.9 and 1.9 percent respectively, the Azores saw decreases of 5.2 percent.

Since the start of the year, passenger numbers at airports managed by ANA increased 7.8 percent, to 22.6 million passengers.

Oporto airport recorded the highest growth so far this year, 16.5 percent, followed by Faro with 6.1 percent, Lisbon 5.8 percent and the Azores, 1.8 percent.

Overall, the UK, France and Spain are the main markets responsible for increased passenger numbers.

“TAP Portugal (37.2 percent), Ryanair (14 percent), easyJet (12.4 percent) and group SATA (6.2 percent) represent 69.8 percent of traffic at ANA airports,” a company statement said.
Amnesty International celebrates 30 years in Portugal

The Portugal branch of worldwide human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) is this year celebrating its 30th anniversary. In an exclusive interview with The Portugal News, Portugal’s AI President, Lucília José Justino talks about the organisation’s founding, its campaigns and activities in Portugal and beyond.

Amnesty International as an organisation in fact began 50 years ago in the UK, sparked by an ‘event’ that took place in Portugal.

“The founding of the organisation is linked to Portugal,” said Lucília José Justino, adding that it was an English lawyer named Peter Benenson who launched a worldwide appeal for amnesty in 1961 after reading an article about Portuguese prisoners.

Mr. Benenson published an article in The Observer entitled ‘The Forgotten Prisoners’, which was then published in a number of newspapers around the world and led to the foundation of Amnesty International.

The article that ignited the flame was about two Portuguese students who were arrested for raising a toast to freedom at a time when the country was under a dictatorship.

“There is likely to be a bit of myth in the story as no records with the names of the two students have ever been found,” said Mrs. Justino.

The closest evidence was found by Portuguese historian Irene Pimentel, who discovered there were student protests in 1960, a year before the article was published, but nothing referring to arrests due to ‘a toast to freedom’.

According to Mrs. Justino, Peter Benenson had originally intended a year-long campaign, not foreseeing the lasting impact it would have. The organisation’s first international meeting was held in July 1961, with delegates from Belgium, the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the US, when it was decided to establish “a permanent movement to defend freedom of opinion and religion.”

On 10 December that year, which was also Human Rights Day, the first Amnesty International candle (which, wrapped in barbed wire has become its symbol), was lit in St. Martin in the Fields Church in London.

It was in May 1981 that the Portugal branch of the organisation was founded.

“AI already had Portuguese members prior to 1981, but as people in Portugal contacted the head offices in London, they were put in touch with each other and so the branch was formed once there were 50 people, which is the required number.” she explained.

Thirty years on, the Portugal arm now boasts around 13,000 members and supporters of various nationalities.

Mrs. Justino’s own involvement with the organisation started more than 20 years ago.

“I was an activist and part of Group 3 in Oeiras. I needed this activism in my life, I felt the need to not forget those who had been forgotten, but I never thought I would one day become President,” she said.

Despite being a voluntary position, Lucília Justino does not recall ever switching her Amnesty International phone off during her six year role as President of the national branch.

“Being President is a position of great responsibility and involves a lot of work. It means being on call 24 hours a day. As well as my regular job as a media studies teacher, I spend between four and six hours per day dealing with AI emails,” she said.

For Lucília Justino, the fact that the leaders of AI are volunteers is a great attraction and may be part of the organisation’s lasting success around the world.

“We pay for all our own expenses and have regular jobs outside of AI. We do however have a team of paid employees also, but it is an enormous privilege to be one of the organisers.”

Speaking about Portugal’s role in the organisation, Mrs. Justino explained that the national section’s objectives are the same as those of all AI branches in terms of global campaigns: to end the death penalty, for fair trials to take place around the world, and human rights not to be violated.

Mrs. Justino considers that Portugal itself does not have a great problem with human rights violations, being on a par with other European nations.

“There has been a huge amount of progress in terms of policing and other issues, but there are also problems that are unknown to us because in some cases, people to not complain, or a complaint may not go to court or may not lead to a conviction,” she said, adding that the organisation does not give opinions about cases unless there has been an in depth investigation carried out to ascertain the facts.

One issue which has crept into the national limelight this month however is the admission that female genital mutilation (which AI campaigns against), is happening in Portugal among the Guinean immigrant population.

“AI already knew about this, as does the Family Planning Association (APF) and the Government,” she said, adding that the World Health Organisation has also already announced that Portugal is a country at risk of this happening.

“The novelty is the fact that a local association has admitted that it is happening in its geographical area,” she said, explaining that there is a lack of statistical data on the practise, only estimates.

“It is important to collect data so that people can discuss facts. There are situations of mortality and the practise leads to serious psychological and physical consequences,” she said.

According to Lucília Justino, the main cause of female genital mutilation is gender discrimination. There is also a strong economic reason, as it is a source of income for the women who carryout it out.

“The idea that it is linked to culture or religion is false and must be demystified. Culture is dynamic and evolves. The problem is a lack of education and that they do not know the consequences.”

For Mrs. Justino, the fact that a practise is part of a culture is not an excuse.

“I hate listening to people who say that we can’t interfere because it is part of another culture. There is no excuse for torture and female mutilation is torture,” she said.

Throughout this year, AI and APF in Portugal are working together in a campaign against the practise. The issue is also part of a wider European campaign initiated in Ireland, which will last until July 2012.

Last year, AI ran a specific campaign against domestic violence, which is a problem that also occurs in Portugal.

“We collaborated with other organisations, sought out to inform people and tell them to complain and speak up against violence, which should never be tolerated in a loving relationship.”

“There is a saying in Portugal ‘entre marido e mulher, não metas a colher’ (do not put your spoon between a husband and wife), but now anyone can and should denounce domestic violence.”

In its annual report for 2011 on Portugal, Amnesty International revealed that “new regulations to protect women from domestic violence were adopted in April, including provisions recognising the right of victims to receive information, protection, shelter and financial and other assistance.”

The document added that the number of reports of domestic violence decreased slightly in comparison to 2009; the NGO Association for Victim Support registered 15,236 complaints of domestic violence in 2010 compared with 15,904 in 2009. However, the women’s association NGO União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta registered 43 murders in 2010, compared with 29 in 2009.”

According to Mrs. Justino, domestic violence doesn’t only affect women but the elderly as well, who are victims of abuse from their children and grandchildren.

Aside from the national and global campaigns, AI Portugal also focuses campaigns in certain countries, including Portuguese speaking countries, as well as those with the death penalty such as China and Iran.

“There are specific campaigns for Portuguese speaking countries, such as Brazil, Angola and Mozambique,” she said, adding that the country has a certain proximity to those people due to the common language. There is also no Brazil branch of AI, which means that AI Portugal is one of the main channels for human rights violations in the country to be denounced and investigated.

“Although we have focus countries, we are not stuck to the same places. Our campaigns vary and can depend on where there are wars and situations arising. Where there is a human rights violation, AI aims to be there to give it a voice.”

Following the organisation’s 30 year anniversary in Portugal, Lucília Justino hopes that Amnesty International will continue to grow, become more sustainable and develop in all areas.

“The greatest birthday gift we have had as part of our 30th anniversary is growth,” she said, adding: “what we want to do from now on is continue to grow.”

She explained that the organisation also has a great amount of credibility and is close to the heart of many people.

“Amnesty International has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Portugal branch received the Human Rights award from parliament in 2006, which at a local level is very good.”

Curiously, Mrs. Justino explained that Amnesty International was named as such because of the forgotten students, as amnesty is similar to the word amnesia and signifies the idea of forgiveness.
“It leads many, who do not know what we are about to think that we are fighting for forgiveness or for [violations] to be forgotten, but we do not want to forgive or to forget, what we want is justice. We want justice to be applied, fair trials and for no one to be above the law.”
For further information about Amnesty International Portugal, visit their website

at: www.amnistia-internacional.pt.
The Body Shop fights child trafficking in Portugal

International cosmetics brand The Body Shop has donated €44,300 to the Portuguese Victim Support Association (APAV) as part of the company’s worldwide campaign against the sexual trafficking of children and young people, currently the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

At the end of last month, The Body Shop presented its new product range at the Convento do Beato in Lisbon, where an update was given on the company’s partnership with APAV, along with the monetary donation.

As part of its ongoing campaign the cosmetics company had already given APAV a donation in September 2010, which was spent on a project to support and protect children and young people who were victims of trafficking.

Now at the end of a second year of campaigning and fundraising, The Body Shop’s latest donation will be used for the same project and also to raise awareness about trafficking, which, according to the cosmetic company, affects approximately 1.8 million children each year around the world.

The Body Shop’s campaign further organised a petition entitled ‘Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People’, which was promoted on an international level and gathered seven million signatures that were presented to the United Nations on 29 September.

A total of 31,500 signatures were collected in Portugal, with the Portuguese petition being handed in to the President of the national parliament, Jaime Gama on 15 March this year.

Inspired by The Body Shop’s founder Anita Roddick, the company said in a statement that it is “proud to continue to fight against human trafficking, raising awareness about this modern day slave industry to world leaders and the global community.”

As part of its campaign, The Body Shop partnered with associations that work against human trafficking, including ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) on an international level, and APAV on a national level.

Aside from its work with children, APAV also supports victims of all ages and has this month started a national campaign to raise awareness about violence against the elderly. The objective of this campaign is to educate people so that they can identify cases of abuse towards the elderly and know how to deal with it.

Posters, television and radio adverts as well as awareness-raising actions aimed at children in schools and towards the general public will be part of this latest campaign. Informative leaflets will also be distributed among health professionals, as many elderly people seek help from health centres.

“If these professionals are informed then it is easier for them to identify and report cases of domestic violence,” campaign organiser, Maria de Oliveira, told Lusa News Agency.

For the general population to become aware that there are other forms of abuse that do not involve physical or verbal aggression, a manual to explain about sexual, physical, psychological and financial abuse will be launched.

“Violence can be carried out in the street, such as robbery, it can be at home, such as domestic violence, or against someone who lives alone,” said Maria de Oliveira.

She added that APAV hears of cases where even carers keep the possessions of the elderly people they look after. Forcing someone into a retirement home and emotional dependency are other forms of ‘violence’ described by Mrs. Oliveira.

“There are also many cases of emotional dependence. They are complicated situations for the victim to admit they are suffering crime and violence, especially when it is psychological, which is often worse than physical,” she said.

Elderly victims of abuse in Portugal are mostly aged between 65 and 75, suffering physical violence from their partners (1,622 cases in 2009), and from their children (1,466 cases in 2009). Between 2000 and 2009, there was a 12 percent increase in the number of cases.

APAV works with police authorities to support its campaigns and cases of abuse that are reported. Last week, the association partnered with the PSP police in Ponta Delgada in the Azores to inaugurate a pilot project aimed at facilitating psychological, social, legal and emotional support to victims of crime.

As part of this new service, victims who report a crime to the PSP no longer have to contact APAV themselves, as the association will contact them directly within one hour, for extremely urgent cases, to a maximum of five days, once the appropriate forms have been filled out.

APAV coordinator, Helena Costa, told the Boas Noticias news site that the aim is to provide “a more comfortable service to anyone who has suffered a trauma as a victim of crime.”

“This referral system, which is unique in Portugal, but already exists in Holland and the UK, covers all victims of crime, because they need immediate support and may not be aware of certain legalities and the existence of support,” she added.

Access to this support is free and covers victims of all crime, from domestic violence to tourists who have been robbed or attacked. All a victim has to do is fill out a form, providing their identification with a description of the crime and their consent to being contacted by APAV.
Around 60 police officers have received training from APAV but for the initial phase of this pilot scheme, APAV personnel will be present at police stations during the busiest times of the day.

Helena Costa said that she hopes the pilot scheme, which is currently underway at Ponta Delgada police station, will be extended to the rest of the Azores and continental Portugal in the future.
Summer sleeps soar

Combined figures released this week by the Office of National Statistics and Portugal Tourism has revealed the tourism industry continues to defy the widespread effects of the economic crisis. A series of records have been broken, though authorities are not yet risking forecasts on 2012.

Double digit growth in several major international markets has been attributed as being the reason behind the surprise boost in overnight stays, which were up by almost a million this past summer.

More than 15.5 million nights were booked at Portuguese hotels between July and September, up 924,700 in relation to the same period in 2010.

The Algarve represented approximately 40 percent of all paid accommodation over this three-month period, with 6.5 million nights being booked in the region over the summer.

This figure is also the highest ever for Portugal’s tourism hot-spot in the south, and beats all existing figures on record.

The Office of National Statistics also revealed that three million nights were reserved in the capital, 1.6 million in the North, and 1.5 million in central Portugal. The Alentejo registered a total of 475,000 nights.
Additional scrutiny of tourism data shows that all of Portugal’s regions reported year-on-year increases. In addition to the Algarve, the regions of Lisbon, Alentejo, northern and central Portugal all smashed existing occupancy records for the July to September period.

While an increasing number of Portuguese opted to spend their vacations in the country, which aided these figures, it was the surge in foreign visitors that represented the overwhelming number of overnight stays at national hotels.

Overall, the number of foreign tourists in Portugal over the summer was 11 percent up on last year.

Brazil was responsible for the highest growth (29 percent), followed by the United Kingdom (15 percent), while major markets such as the United States, France and the Netherlands also reported double digit growth over the summer.

Spain, with a rise of eight percent, also assisted in helping Portuguese tourism achieve a record-breaking year.

Revenue at Portuguese hotels also smashed previous records, with 550.8 million euros spent in hotel accommodation during the period in question. This total is almost 40 million euros higher than the previous best for the hotel industry which was achieved in 2008.

Meanwhile, statistics for the first nine months of the year show that 2.2 million more nights were booked at hotels than in 2010.

Between January and September, 32.6 million nights were booked, with foreign tourists representing two-thirds of the total, translating into a year-on-year increase of 12.1 percent.

Forecasts by Portuguese tourism authorities are that the once optimistic target figure of 40 million nights will be surpassed in 2011, allowing for eight billion euros to enter the country’s economy as a direct and indirect result of tourism.

Pedro Silva
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