Ana Paula Pais, the new AEHT President
Ana Paula Pais is the director of the Coimbra Hotel and Tourism School, the largest in Portugal with 400 students and 2000 adults in continuing education; she joined the AEHT in Bled in 2004 as representative of Portugal. She has been an AEHT Vice-President since 2006 in Killarney, and until now her responsibilities have been to oversee the various events organised by schools across Europe. It was no surprise – she was the only candidate – she was elected President at the meeting of the Executive Board on Tuesday November 12th.
What are the main lines of your new post?
‘My programme has two pillars, if I may put it like that. The first pillar consists of making as many contacts as possible in order to find new sponsors in the hospitality sector; and then developing projects which can show the AEHT’s values, and developing networks because a lot of people do not know about the AEHT.
I want the representatives of each country to strive to demonstrate to the various people in charge in their schools what contribution can be made by the value-added which the AEHT represents. And also to find ways of giving a boost to training for the development of each student; and finally to help countries which are having problems in that area. We have to prepare for the future for and through training, and help all our member countries to see the direction they need to take in the field of hotel and tourism.
I also believe that my presidency will be an opportunity for Portugal, which has 24 schools. I firmly intend to deal with promoting the AEHT among these schools. But not only them – I will do so at European level too, and why not also promote the AEHT in America and in Asia'.
Klaus Enengl, the outgoing President
In cabin 8262 being used as an office and full of cardboard boxes, the outgoing President Klaus Enengl, who is still a Vice-President, is absorbed by the task of formatting the results of the competitions. While giving his attention to this task, answering the phone and speaking to visitors asking for information, he found the time to answer a few questions.
What do you feel now that you have ceased to be President after four years?
Ah, that’s a very good question. First of all I have to say that the AEHT has enabled me to make lots of friends, starting with Louis Robert (Editor’s note: Louis smiles, he is sitting just next to Klaus). Then there are the international contacts which are always rewarding. Not only with the schools but also with the authorities. I also think that these four years have been excellent for the Austrian schools thanks to my presidency. In any case being at the head of an association such as the AEHT for four years is truly enriching from a personal point of view.
How do you now see the future of the AEHT?
Well I think that the AEHT has become more professional and that the next stage is to try to improve the competitions as much as possible, making them yet more attractive and efficient.
When you decided to celebrate the 25th anniversary on a cruise, wasn’t it a bit of a crazy dream?
(Broad smile) O yes, no doubt about that. But I have to say, now that we are on board the Costa Mediterranea, that even if a boat is not the same as a school, I am filled with admiration – and I’m not the only one – for the professionalism of the whole crew. Each time a problem has arisen, they have always found a solution. We even found a good solution for the organisation of the competitions on board, given the constraints. That was quite an achievement.
Now that I am a Vice-President again, I have a lump in my throat when I think of the ceremony in Dubrovnik at which I was elected President, and I wish Ana Paula Pais every success. I myself and the other Vice-Presidents will obviously give her all our support. Together with the President I want to strengthen our cooperation with the national representatives. And I can now reveal a secret to you: the 2021 Annual Conference will take place in Bad Ischl, in my home town in Austria!
Ingrid Happ, the ‘hotel manager’
‘Being flexible …’
Based in her office on deck two, Ingrid Happ from Innsbruck in Austria is in charge of the entire hospitality side of the Costa Mediterranea. In her formal ship’s officer’s uniform, and with her mobile phone almost glued to her hand, her eyes are everywhere and she has no compunction in pointing out improvements that are needed here and there.
With her thirty years of experience on board various ships of cruise companies, Ingrid Happ, who started right at the bottom, can say that she has seen it all. But this cruise with the AEHT, she admits that she has not yet experienced such an adventure!
‘Of course we have already had groups of a considerable size on board, but so far not one like the AEHT with its schools and its competitions! It’s a first. What is important for me is to have the right information and to be flexible. It was very interesting, this aspect of international work. Throughout the cruise I have had a very good impression of the students. Everything went off well. They've behaved well and to my knowledge there haven’t been any problems. You know, the staff include 35 different nationalities and on this cruise there are around 750 crew members and 2,400 passengers. . As I said, that requires us to show great flexibility!'
How true. And the participants in this 25th Anniversary Conference could see this for themselves at every moment.
Students met at random gave improvised answers to the only question one could ask during this cruise: are you pleased and happy to have participated in it?
The answer was unanimous: yes, of course, it’s great to have participated!
And the smiles also speak for themselves!
TWO OF THE AEHT’S ‘OLD TIMERS' LEAVE THEIR POSTS
Louis ROBERT, ex-vice-president
A very early member of the AEHT, Louis Robert is ‘part of the furniture’. With his crew-cut and his moustache like that of a young film star, he has been to all the Annual Conferences where he has supervised the organisation year after year without ever losing his smile or his cool. Let us hear from this specialist in trouble-shooting.
‘I attended the first Annual Conference in Strasbourg as a maths teacher, together with my predecessor Roland Lacaf and a few students. In 1991 I became a Vice-President and I stayed in this post until 2000, when the Head Office was transferred to Diekirch. From 2000 to 2003 I was president, from 2003 to 2006 Vice-President again, then President from 2006 to 2009, and then Vice-President from 2009 to 2013.
Do I have good memories? Of course I do, so many of them. I don’t regret one moment that I have spent with the AEHT. In general we have always been spoilt at our Presidium meetings, where our hosts have always received us in an extraordinary fashion, whether in the Azores with our meeting with the whales, or in Portugal with tastings of extraordinary wines for example. Another almost historical moment was our study visit to Colombia, where our Colombian partners gave us the chance to experience a few amazing days, from every point of view. And, since you ask me the question, I won’t be talking about the less pleasant times. In any case there have been very few of them and I’ve long since forgotten them.
As for my retirement from the AEHT, this won’t happen any time soon. I am still the national representative for Luxembourg. Retired? It’s just an expression. I have certainly given up my post as director of the LTHAH in Diekirch, but I have set up a new private school in Luxembourg which provides university courses in Hotel and Tourism Management. A new challenge, new experiences, meeting new people, but less stress and more an ‘occupation’ than a real job. An unbelievable opportunity to avoid too sudden a break with professional life, and to give others the benefit of the experience I have had and the skills I have accumulated. So, it’s ‘half-time’ retirement, but with the working part of my life which gives me much pleasure.
‘The Council of Elders will have to wait for me a while longer’ – he said with a loud laugh!
Hans RUSSEGGER, ex-treasurer
Another familiar figure of the AEHT is definitively leaving his post – the treasurer, Hans Russegger. He has always been recognisable by his tall stature and slightly shambling gait, coupled with a delightful courtesy reinforced by an unmistakeable Austrian accent. Just like Louis Robert, he is also ‘part of the furniture’ of the AEHT, in his case since 1989.
‘My school director at Bad Ischl, Reinhard Ginsel, the founder member for Austria, had taken me to the second Annual Conference in Anavissos in Greece,’ says Hans. Two years later the AEHT General Secretary Sibylle Schoch asked me to be the Association’s treasurer. I accepted and have occupied the post of treasurer until 2013, with a break of three years, from 2006 to 2009. Klaus Enengl replaced me during this period so that he could become a member of the Presidium. And I left this post during this naval conference!
‘What are my best memories?’ Hans does not need to think long. ‘My best memories are linked to the Annual Conferences and to the many conversations with my AEHT friends. I can’t recall a single bad memory. It’s true that it was sometimes difficult, with the lonely work at home in front of the computer doing my treasurer’s work as best I could. Getting the subscriptions in, sending out reminders to schools, etc.
And now what plans does the ex-treasurer have?
‘I’ll keep up as many contacts as I can with some of my AEHT friends and I’ll take part in one or two AEHT events. Apart from that I’ll give more of my time to painting – for the last four years I’ve been doing acrylic painting (flowers, trees, mountains, gorges). In addition I do a lot of singing in the Salzburg Mozart Choir (I sing bass) and I often go to classical music concerts and listen to opera.’