The consular section of the Embassy hosted its annual conference for Honorary Consuls and Consular Agents in Ecuador, and also ran a semi-live crisis exercise for all staff
The conference was hosted on Monday 9th February in Quito, inviting all members of our voluntary consular assistance network. Our Honorary Consuls in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Galapagos play a vital role in supporting the consular section the Embassy, by being a first point of contact and providing consular assistance to British citizens involved in an emergency. Our ten Consular Agents around Ecuador, who work on a completely voluntary basis, are also an important element of the network due to their good local knowledge and contacts, enabling them to provide the most up-to-date information to the Embassy during major emergencies and crisis situations.
The conference covered a review of consular assistance policies aligned with our Consular Strategy 2013-2016, and also presented the Honorary Consuls and Consular Agents with the latest information on the Consular Section’s digital communications strategy, travel safety and responsible tourism preventative campaign, outreach events with local authorities, and an overview of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s crisis management department and the Embassy’s crisis management plan. The presentations covered key information such as the Data Protection Act and its implications for consular work, and the prioritisation of more vulnerable customers. An update was also given on the latest changes to consular services, for example the new online passport application system for British nationals overseas, and changes to the registration process for births and deaths.
Additionally, local guest speakers were invited to present the Honorary Consuls and Consular Agents with useful information. This began with a presentation from the Ministry of Tourism on travel safety and emergency response protocol, and plans for tourism promotion in the UK and other markets. Subsequently, a representative from the Ecuadorean Geophysical Institute (IGEPN) gave an informative talk on seismic risks in Ecuador. Group activities and lively questions and answer sessions complemented the event, and the conference was very successful in updating and strengthening our country-wide consular network, keeping it prepared to respond to the needs of British nationals in Ecuador.
On the following day, Tuesday 10th February, all Embassy staff took part in an semi-live crisis exercise, along with participation from the Honorary Consuls and Consular Agents. This exercise, conducted on an annual basis, is very important to test the Embassy’s capacity to respond to a crisis, communicate more effectively with central teams in the UK, and identify areas for improvement in our Crisis Management Plan and processes. The event was a great success including consular assistance role-play practice exercises for the Honorary Consuls, Consular Agents and the Embassy consular team. It ended with a thorough debriefing session for all staff, in order to continue improving our level of crisis preparedness.