Once again, a Hotel and Tourism School has taken up the challenge of organising the AEHT’s Annual Conference, the 22nd such event, held this time in Dubrovnik in Croatia; and if Dubrovnik is not quite paradise, it must at least be fairly close to it. The Conference took place from November 17th to November 22nd, in beautiful sunny weather and in an atmosphere that lent itself both to work and to relaxation; delegates were housed in the hotels of the Valamar Group on the Babin Kuk peninsula, a few hundred yards away from the fine old city once called Ragusa, and now known as Dubrovnik.
This 22nd Annual Conference was marked by the handing over of the Presidential baton from Louis Robert to Klaus Enengl during the Annual General Assembly, which had been preceded by an Extraordinary General Assembly called to approve the revision of several articles of the statutes; these included the article concerning the duration of the mandates of members of the Presidium, which is now increased to four years from the previous three-year mandate.
Antun Perušina’s teams consisting of teachers and students from the school which he heads, carried out their allotted tasks with discretion and professionalism, taking in their stride the usual little problems that crop up when more than 700 delegates from 30 countries from the four corners of Europe come together, work side by side and mingle to take part in the competitions, the excursions and the meetings, and to share moments of conviviality. But the teams always wore a smile.
On the whole the competitions took place in a friendly spirit, and the arrangements and installations were excellent. We must wonder whether some directors had actually read the rules drawn up by the specially-convened committee – and we are led to think not, since sometimes the judging panels had to make difficult decisions in disputes which had led to the exclusion of certain students from the contests. These cases prompted Louis Robert, the outgoing president, to comment that this type of behaviour harms above all the students concerned; such undignified behaviour is not in keeping with the role of the teacher.
And what of the arrangements for our lodging and meals? The general opinion was that they were excellent, even if a few carping delegates found things to complain about. No change there then!
Thanks to the programme of excursions, the participants also had the opportunity to discover the charms of a country where tourism reigns supreme. There were also excursions to neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina, to Mostar and its famous Stari Most, the ‘old bridge’ destroyed during the war and rebuilt as an exact replica. Then there was the trip to nearby Medugorge, a recent Marian shrine very popular with pilgrims. And then there was the cruise on the wooden sailing boat to discover the Peljesac peninsula, Konavle and the Elaphite Islands – such beautiful destinations. And finally, the guided tour of the Old Town provided an opportunity for the delegates to discover the charms of the massive city walls, the narrow streets with their amazing slopes, and to experience a gentle lifestyle witnessed by the large paving slabs burnished by the hundreds of thousands of footsteps walking across them.
Dubrovnik? We are left with an overwhelming desire to come back again! Many thanks to Antun Perušina’s school for giving us these moments of total well-being.