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A Rousing Success

Budapest pulls out all the stops for 70th Skal World Congress

eTN Staff Writer  Nov 25, 2009

A very successful 70th Skål World Congress was held in Budapest, Hungary, from November 1-6, 2009. The almost 1,000 participants were loud in their praise for the organizers of the congress - chairman, George Paldi, president of Skål International Hungary, and PCO Peter Javorkai of STH Special Tours, Budapest. Ably assisted by their staff and a number of tourism students, they managed to organize a congress which was different, varied, and above all very enjoyable. The historic city of Budapest pulled out all the stops, including decorating the Elizabeth Bridge over the Danube with the flags of all 62 nations attending the congress. The Ministry of Tourism and the city of Budapest were generous with their sponsorship of the congress thus adding, in no small way, to its success.

The Congress began with the customary Ecumenical Service in the famous St. Stephen’s Basilica, which was attended by over 500 of the participants. The service included Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Bahai faiths.

From the Basilica the participants were taken to the Budapest Market for a very special get-together party. This was the real live market, which is open every day for the local people to do their shopping. Some of the stalls at the market remained open so that the visitors could actually buy local produce and souvenirs. The food, wine, and particularly the music created an atmosphere rarely experienced at a get-together party. The president of Skål International, Hulya Aslantas, welcomed the participants to the part,y which included 253 first-time attendees.

On Monday, November 2, 2009, the Opening Ceremony was held at the magnificent Palace of Arts and was attended by the Minister for Local Government in charge of Tourism and the Deputy Chief Mayor of Budapest. The ceremony included the roll call of nations and the parade of flags, as well as speeches of welcome from the dignitaries present. At the end of her speech in which her message was one of confidence and a positive approach, the president Hulya Aslantas was joined on stage by a group of professional musicians for a rendition of the song “We Can Fly.” The winners of the Skål Club of the year competition were announced, and the winner of the competition for 2009 is Skål International Albany, Australia. Second was Skål International New York and in third place Skål International Stockholm. The 8th Ecotourism Awards were presented during the opening ceremony and 19 club twinning agreements were signed.

The Opening Ceremony ended with a cultural program, which had jazz, operetta, and a traditional folklore show, which included some beautiful Hungarian music. The luncheon following the Opening Ceremony was held at the Hilton Hotel in Buda.

The day ended with a cruise on the Danube followed by a sumptuous buffet on board the Europa.

The General Assembly of Clubs was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 in the Ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel. It was a long day and included presentations by Malev Airlines, the official carrier for the congress, and Johnson Diversey, the official sponsor of the Ecotourism Awards. Morning and afternoon coffee breaks were sponsored by the Croatian National Incentive Bureau. The annual Dine Around took place on Tuesday evening, November 3, 2009 with 21 restaurants being used on this occasion. The Annual Meeting and Dinner of the Honorary and Past Presidents was also held on this evening. A record 16 Honorary and Past Presidents and their accompanying persons were in attendance in Budapest.

On Wednesday morning, all activity moved to the Corinthia Royal Hotel in the city center for the Business to Business Workshop (B2B). The workshop has grown from five tables in 2005 to 78 tables in Budapest. On Wednesday evening, the President’s Gala Dinner, hosted by the Ministry of Tourism of Hungary, was held at the Railway Park Museum, which had been suitably decorated for the occasion. The guests were taken to the museum by steam train formally used by the Orient Express. A sumptuous dinner was served with fantastic musical interludes throughout the dinner. The dance floor was packed, and people really did not want to leave.

On Thursday, the day tour for all participants was to the Lake Balaton area famous for its thermal waters. The Farewell Party on Thursday evening was at the Lazlo Equestrian center outside Budapest. The evening commenced with a demonstration of horse skills, which is part of the program at Lazar. The participants were treated to a buffet of typical Hungarian food including the famous Hungarian Goulash.

All in all, the event was a rousing success and a great time was had by all.

Budapest pulls out all the stops for 70th Skal World Congress
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