The Safe and Sunny Holiday Seminar dealing with on-line fraud in the Global Tourism Industry was a great success attended by senior government officials and some 70 people overall.
The event jointly organised by Safe Communities Portugal and the Public Security Police, Metropolitan Police Command, held in Cascais, was the first of its type in Portugal, dealing with a highly complex issue that affects the travel industry, both here and many other countries.
The seminar was opened by the Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Cascais, Dr.Carlos Carreiras, and other officials namely the Deputy National Director of the Public Security Police, Superintendente- Chefe Torres; the Comandante do Comando Metropolitano da PSP de Lisboa (Superintendente Jorge Maurício) and David Thomas President Safe Communities Portugal. Dr. Carreiras emphasized the importance of tourism and its value to the local community and therefore the importance of reducing the risk of this type of fraud.
Other officials attending were Pedro Gasper Inspector General of ASAE, Dr. Gameiro Marques Director General Gabinete Nacional de Seguranca and Dra. Ana Catarina Director General Consumidor.
Over a period of some two hours the presenters shared their diverse experiences in areas such as fraud prevention, investigation, prosecution and consumer rights, including an overseas experience from the Deputy Head of Mission Australian Embassy in Lisbon.
The presenter from Consumidor Dra. Maria do Ceu Costa, gave an overview of the European structure of consumer rights protection and the rights of redress in cases of fraud, and the part Portugal plays in this. Dr Eduardo Miranda outlined the work of Associação do Alojamento Local em Portugal on the ways to help prevent fraud and Dr.º Pedro Verdelho Gabinete Cibercrime da Procuradoria-Geral da República, outlined the challenges posed on determining where the crime was based, and the investigation and prosecutions of such crimes.
Comissário Iúri Rodrigues from the Public Security Police explained the police perspective from the Public Security Police point of view and Prof. Jim Litchko from Safe Communities Portugal outline the work of the association in fraud prevention and the cyber security threats.
David Thomas stated that it was clear that with the increasing number of tourists visiting Portugal, this could result in an increase in fraud as fraudsters are targeting the most popular travel periods and destinations.
All agreed that in booking holidays and accommodation there was a need to move away from an direct interbank payment system, which could easily be exploited by criminals and move instead to a credit card system where possible. It was noted that in the UK this was the advice of ABTA the British and Tourism Association, the police and others so it was important that the industry makes the changes necessary to accommodate this form of payment.
For those unable to attend this seminar Safe Communities Portugal and the Regional Tourism Algarve will be holding a similar presentation – date to be announced.