SKAL Congress: Tourist business among friends

Zagreb, 17.10.2005.

The 66th World Congress of the International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals, “SKAL International”, attended by over 850 tourist managers from all over the world, was hosted today at Zagreb. The Congress is organized under the patronage/aegis of the President of the Republic of Croatia, Stjepan Mesić. President Mesić sent a message via his representative Boris Šprem, stating how the development of tourism through friendship and peace was ideal for these areas and that the SKAL Congress was an ideal opportunity for discovering the Croatian natural beauties and traditional hospitality.

The first five days will be held in Zagreb, and the last part, 20 – 21 October, in Dubrovnik. Most of the attendees arrived from the USA, Australia, Turkey, Ireland, Great Britain, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Italy and Nigeria.

The Minister of the Sea, Tourism, Transport and Development, Božidar Kalmeta, stated that this year's tourist season was more successful than the previous one. It was also the most successful season since Croatia's gaining of independence. The Minister, addressing the tourist managers, emphasized that Croatia enjoyed during the last years impressive results in tourism. In September, more than 50 million night stays were registered, while the 10 millionth guest is expected to arrive by the end of 2005.

The Minister concluded that those results were not easy to achieve. He explained how Croatia had invested in tourism and infrastructure, in the building of motorways, and in the reconstruction of ports and marinas. A positive atmosphere was also created by investing in tourist personnel. Finally, the joining of the EU would also strengthen Croatia’s tourism, for it would attract foreign investors and show how we had introduced standards comparable to the most modern tourist countries.

Matanyah Hecht, President of SKAL, explained that it was a well known phenomenon that all countries after hosting/organizing the World Congress “SKAL International’’, had registered a growth in tourist traffic. He added how he was hoping the same thing would happen to Croatia.
According to him, after the Congress in Israel, the tourist traffic of that country increased for another 25% and after the Viennese Congress, that city registered a tourist increase of 12%. “I hope that Croatia, who at the moment is counting 10 million tourist arrivals per year, will soon reach the number of 20 million tourists”, said Hecht

During the Congress, organized under the motto “Tourism through friendship and peace”, will be organized the General Assembly of the SKAL delegates, an international Tourism Forum with the theme “Meeting & Incentive Travel – Business Tool for Success” and the Croatian Festival of Vine and Food.
SKAL includes representatives of all branches in the tourism industry. It was founded in 1932 and is counting today 22 000 members in 486 SKAL clubs throughout 87 countries. In Croatia, besides the Croatian Union, SKAL clubs are active in Zagreb and Dubrovnik.

Zagreb was accredited with the organization of the Congress at the SKAL World Congress 2001, organized in Puerto Rico. That year, the other competing cities were London and Bucharest. To be entrusted with the organization of the SKAL World Congress was perceived as an outstanding acknowledgment for Croatia, it was the country’s opportunity to confirm itself as a valid tourist and congress destination.

Besides the presentation of the Croatian tourist offer, the organization of this Congress is a chance for attracting influential people from the world of tourism. SKAL is joined by many owners, directors, and the top management of all branches in the tourist industry.