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Spain relief – why event professionals can’t believe everything they read

“HOLS TERROR ALERT” screamed one headline this week as the British tabloids reported that the terror threat in Spain had been raised to ‘severe’.

Reports claimed that 40,000 extra police had been deployed to holiday hotspots ahead of a potential ISIS terror attack.

This set off worries in the industry, with event professionals taking to social media to discuss whether it was still safe to take groups to the country.

The fact is, however, the terror threat hadn’t been raised at all. Spain has maintained its threat level of four out of five since the ISIS-inspired attacks that killed 38 tourists in Tunisia in June 2015.

There has been no change in the terror threat level since then – even in the aftermath of the Barcelona attack in 2017 that saw 14 killed and dozens injured when a van rammed crowds on Las Ramblas.

It’s true that Spain has deployed extra police to tourist areas – but this isn’t anything out of the ordinary. It’s as part of Operation Summer, an annual effort over the last few years to boost security in areas that see high levels of tourists during the summer.

The government said that the aim of the operation is to ‘take full action to obtain information in order to prevent terrorist acts’, while ‘reinforcing security measures at events and places that will attract a large number of people’.

And it’s these comments that were seized upon by the UK press. However, the stories that emerged were inaccurate and scare-mongering, causing unnecessary panic in the events industry.

Security is the number one concern for our industry when taking groups abroad. Anyone who does have concerns about a destination should obviously exercise due caution – speaking to destination management companies is always a good starting point.

But the fact is, event professionals already have enough on their plates, so it would be helpful if irresponsible reporting did not spread fear and worry in the first place.

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