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From November 7th to 12th 2011 The Netherlands hosted the AEHT’s 24th Annual Conference. Was it a coincidence that at exactly the same dates but in 1997, Zandvoort hosted the 10th Annual Conference, just 14 yours earlier?

The framework of the Annual Conference is unchanging, and only the participants and the premises undergo a partial change. Having chosen as their destination The Hague, the country’s administrative capital and seat of its royal family, the conference delegates went right to the heart of the ‘Flat Country’ made famous by Jacques Brel’s song. They could observe that the country’s population, although numerically modest, was industrious and welcoming. This ‘Flat Country’ is also the kingdom of the bicycle, where only the vast number of them is more amazing than their appearance!

This 24th Annual Conference, attended by 601 directors, teachers and students, was organised by the ROC Mondriaan Institute with its many departments whose teachers, trainers and students went to great lengths to ensure the smooth running of the six day event, from the moment delegates arrived until their final departure.

We should emphasise that this 24th Annual Conference owed its very existence to the decision taken by Brigitte Engering, director of the Tourism School of the ROC Mondriaan Institute in The Hague, a decision made despite there being only a year left in which to put the organisation in place. This tough challenge was taken up with great panache by all Brigitte’s teams.

As far as the general atmosphere is concerned, it is very similar from one year to the next. The ambiance is characterised by people making each others' acquaintance, for some people meeting again after a year or so; by people exchanging views and sharing, by the healthy competitive spirit of the competitions, by the little misunderstandings too that the competitions committee has to solve or even sometimes penalise. Even this is part of the large European rendezvous of hotel and tourism schools.

Besides the competitions there was the programme of visits, discoveries, seminars and demonstrations which was very much to the liking of those who were not directly involved in the competitions. Moreover, the competitions were held in exactly the right spirit which caused one of the participants to comment that, just as in the Olympic Games, ‘the main thing is to take part!’

When the time came to say farewell, the general opinion was that this 24th Annual Conference had kept its promise. Now the participants are already thinking of next year in Macedonia. It was time for the ROC Mondriaan teams to hold their debriefing sessions; our warm thanks go to these teams for all the trouble they have taken to ensure that everyone went back to their respective schools with the feeling that they had experienced an enjoyable and useful interlude.

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