The Northern New Jersey chapter of Skål International brought awareness to the Garden State by holding a tourism networking event at the USGA Museum in Far Hills on June 19. Members from eight Skål clubs attended as did many of the state’s top travel, tourism and hospitality leaders.
The keynote speaker was Grace Hanlon, executive director, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism. Hanlon referenced the state’s new tourism marketing and advertising campaign, and with a nod to the jingle, announced New Jersey is “Stronger than the storm” and back in business. Hanlon welcomed everyone to the Jersey shore to see the recovery from super storm Sandy for themselves. County tourism leaders agreed and broadcast that they are opening their arms to showcase the many tourism opportunities that New Jersey has to offer.
By all accounts the evening was a rousing success. It began with a tour of the USGA Museum which houses an amazing array of golf trophies and memorabilia. From vintage equipment to recent accomplishments golf memories abound. It even showcases the six iron used by astronaut Alan Shepherd on the moon on Apollo 14 in 1971. The building is an architectural masterpiece. It was designed and built by John Russell Pope, the designer of the Jefferson Memorial and The National Archives Building.
Following the tour the group held the networking event with drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the reception area. Skal USA President, Tom White, opened the meeting with the Skål toast. Cathy Trementozzi, NNJ Skal’s Director of Public Relations, told the group “we have a golden opportunity to work together to show the world that we have weathered the storm and are open for business.” Trementozzi, who with Skål Secretary, Jim Dwyer, organized the event was overjoyed at the great turnout. Kim Gianetti, assistant manager, marketing and outreach from the USGA, remarked that venues like the USGA Museum are hidden gems and we should be ambassadors to New Jersey tourism and spread the word that it’s a wonderful place for a conference or day trip.
Northern New Jersey Skal President Robert Lowell played a video from Skål International President, Mok Singh, where he explained that Skål aims to be the trusted voice in tourism. Singh also detailed some of the various programs in which Skål currently participates including peace and human rights issues.
Jackie Morales, director, Somerset County Tourism, hoped that the excitement could continue and they build on this event. Members from tourism boards of Somerset, Monmouth, Mercer, Morris, and Sussex counties attended as well as faculty from The International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, which has oldest hospitality program in the U.S. One of Skal’s objectives is to support schools with tourism programs and have developed Young Skål which allows students network with travel and tourism leaders.
The evening ended with some group photos and many enjoying the Pynes Putting Course which has nine hole circuit and is modeled after the world-renowned Himalayas putting course in St. Andrew’s Scotland. Overall the evening was a win-win for all who attended and there is talk of making the networking meeting an annual event.