This morning I went to the Arona Gran Hotel in Los Cristianos for the launch of the British Consulate Safety leaflet campaign. Other invitees included Charmaine Arbouin the British Consul for the Canary Islands and Andalucia, Helen Keating, Vice-Consul in Tenerife, the Director of Tenerife South airport, the Director of 112 Canary Islands, Jorge Marichal, President of Ashotel, representatives from Arona and Adeje National Police, as well as tour operators and of course social media contacts like myself.
We all know if something happens, be it illness, theft, accident, how stressful and upsetting this can be and if we are in a foreign country it seems even worse. Fear and confusion set in as most people don’t know what to do, or who to contact to make things better. This is where the British Consul holiday advice leaflet comes into its own. It highlights key messages that will help people, specifically holiday-makers who find themselves in unfamiliar situations and is the brainchild of Penny Gomez, Consular Officer here in Tenerife.
The points stressed are:
Be aware of your surroundings: Keep your valuables safe at all times, however, in case of any theft, ask your tour operator for instructions. If you don’t have a tour operator, call 0034 902 102 112 this will take you to a police number which is available from 9am to 9pm (Monday to Sunday) and your call will be answered in English. As well as saving hours in a police station, the service prepares your police report for you and you can choose at which convenient local police station you pick it up. This should be done within 72 hours of making your telephone report/complaint.
If your call is about a lost or stolen passport remember you cannot travel using a police report because you need appropriate ID to board your plane. You will need to get in touch with the British Consulate in Santa Cruz and organise an emergency travel document which will allow you to return to the UK. You can do this online HERE or phone 0034 928 262 508.
In an emergency: Call the emergency services on 112. It’s free of charge, and is the equivalent of the UK’s 999!
I spent time talking with José Domingo Linares, the Director of 112. I’m fortunate that I have never had to use the number but in a real emergency I wanted to know what to expect rather than be taken by surprise. Sr. Linares said if I called in English, French, Italian or German I would be answered immediately in one of those languages, however the service has access to 15 different languages and your call no matter what you speak will be processed within a few seconds. The other point I found particularly useful was if I was making a call and needed for example an ambulance I should state that it was an emergency and I needed a National Health ambulance to take you to the nearest public hospital. Often tourists find that if they call an ambulance they will have to foot-the-bill for the call-out charge as well as any medical attention required – hence medical insurance is imperative.
Finally in my latest blog I wrote about the high number of drownings we face on the islands so yet again it must be stressed…..
Respect the beach warning-flags at all times: Red flag: No Bathing Allowed. Yellow flag: Bathe with caution. Green Flag: Safe to Swim. Orange flag: Lifeguard not on duty.
Thousands of leaflets are being printed and will be distributed via tour operators such as TUI, Jet2 and Thomas Cook. Jet2 alone will require some 200,000 and told me they will issue these individually to tourists in their welcome packs, along with copies at their hotels. There will also be leaflets prominently displayed in police stations and of course it is hoped that there is a good response to the initiative on social media.
While nobody wants to be a killjoy where holidays are concerned it is far better to be prepared in case the unforeseen happens and these leaflets will help put a lot of people’s minds at rest, just knowing help is only a phone call away.