The President of Skål International, Hulya Aslantas, attended the traditional Skål luncheon held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, during the World Travel Market London held this month. Representatives from 30 Skål Clubs worldwide were in attendance.

The President of Skål International London Mats Wivesson presided over the luncheon. In a speech during the luncheon, President Wivesson delivered a message of encouragement to all Skål members attending WTM. He said, “In recent times, all we hear and see on television and in the newspapers is “credit crunch.” He urged those in attendance not to join the “credit crunchers.” He continued, “Do not spread this doom and gloom – think positive. Large department stores had reported a decrease in the sale of shoes, but the cobbler had reported a tremendous increase in shoe repairs. Public bars and pubs had reported a large decrease in drinking, but there is a huge increase in the sales of ale.” He suggested that all of us could find something positive in our particular niche, which we could bring back to WTM and be successful.

During the luncheon a new travel and tourism magazine “Visit Mauritius” published by Daiichi Process (Mauritius), Ltd. was launched. Ibrahim Ayoub told the gathering that the magazine covered the tourist attractions on the beautiful islands of Mauritius and Rodriques. The company had already published a similar magazine in Singapore.

The President of Skål International, Hulya Aslantas was one of the speakers and a panelist at the IIPT 10th Annual Featured Event at World Travel Market. The forum entitled “Peace through Tourism – The Next Twenty Years” was organized by the International Institute for Peace through Tourism. The forum was chaired by the president and founder of IIPT, Louis D’Amore .

In her address to the forum, Hulya Aslantas thanked the IIPT for giving Skål the opportunity to address the forum, and she congratulated him on his endeavors toward a more peaceful world. She said, “The 21st century is set to be the century of sensible initiatives getting stronger and governments getting smaller; therefore, it is the duty of all of us to put some values in place.” In that respect, she believed that Skål International and the 20,000 Skål members worldwide – all of them professionals in travel and tourism – while actively involved in implementing these policies and making tourism happen, have the role of preaching and implementing a more peaceful policy.

She continued: “The Skål theme for almost ten years has been “Tourism through Friendship and Peace,” because we believe that without peace and friendship, there cannot be tourism. In addition, we have also added last year a second theme “Sustainable Development in Tourism.” We all know that tourism, no matter what economic problems exist, will expand and will continue to be a major revenue earner for many developing countries, as well as helping to eliminate poverty and bring wealth to our world.”

President Aslantas continued: “The tourism leaders must make sure that tourism is developing in the right direction, meaning it has to be sustainable, it has to work with the environment and the people where it is happening. In everything we are doing, Skål is trying to emphasize that it should be sustainable. We are asking all our members in the 90 plus countries to help create awareness in the remote corners of the world and educate the people around them.”

Hulya Aslantas said she was concerned that some parts of the world are going too much into mass tourism, and she felt that this has taken away some of the interaction between the locals and the tourists. As new President of Skål International, she wanted to bring another dimension to this area and she was asking all Skål members to make sure that we are “Bridging the Cultures,” a theme she intended to adopt during her presidential year. Only then, can tourism help the peace initiative, because only then by people knowing each other better can they kill the misconceptions and criticisms of each other, and this can only be done through peace. She promised, at least on behalf of Skål, that the members will all become Ambassadors of Peace and carry the message of peace around the world to ensure that we are working for a more peaceful world.