The Dark Sky Project group had its first in-person meeting in Moura, Portugal, and it was a constructive few days. We started off with a taxi ride from Lisboa to Hotel de Moura. The first meal was at Restaurante O Trilho, and soon after, we got down to business at ADC Moura’s headquarters.
The opening session was straightforward, covering the key points of our project. Mark Bolger and Luigi Casoria led a useful session on the Dark Sky Ecotourism Guide, focusing on its practical application for tourism businesses and educators. We spent time working on case studies and Excel desk research, and there was also room for some free time to catch up on work or rest.
Dinner took place at Restaurante O Arcada in Safara, followed by an interesting Dark Sky Tourism activity on biodiversity. This included input from researchers at UBC and the University of Évora, giving us more to think about in relation to our project goals.
Day two was equally busy, featuring presentations on several project reports, or PRs as we call them. Grace Roche led the discussion on the Dark Sky Audit and Ecotourism Assessment Tool. We also heard from Maria Clara and Kjartan Bollason on the VET Programme, designed to train small tourism businesses. Cathy Kelly and Tony Johnston talked about the Europe Dark Sky Ecotourism App, rounding off the second day nicely. The evening ended with a visit to Monsaraz and another Dark Sky activity, this time focused on astronomy.
On the last day, we wrapped up by talking about improvements and future plans. We discussed date sand activities for our next meetings in Italy and Iceland, leaving us with a clear sense of direction going forward.
All in all, the meeting was a productive time for everyone. We managed to cover a lot of ground, and it's clear that we're all committed to the Dark Sky Ecotourism Project. To get a better feel for the meeting, have a look at these photos from our time together.