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The large hall of the Sava Center, almost next door to the Crowne Plaza, had a festive air for the opening ceremony of the 27th Annual Conference in Belgrade on Tuesday November 18th 2014. Even if every year the place and the content of the event change, the Belgrade conference will no doubt be distinguished by its healthy sobriety.

Once the delegates were seated, together with a number of local VIPs including a minister Rasim Ljacic, it was time for the entertainment presented by Branko Veselinovic who in a few words introduced the ceremony in association with the ‘Ivo Lola Ribar’ choir, a very classy group of performers loudly applauded by the audience. Next came a video presentation of Serbia and its many jewels, before a speech from Professor Slavoljub Vicic, director of the ‘Visoka Hotelijerska Skola’ of Belgrade, the school organising the Annual Conference. He expressed his delight at welcoming to Serbia for the first time such a concentration of professionals of the hospitality industry from 90 schools in 29 countries, and expressed the wish that everyone would find all the arrangements to their liking throughout their stay in Belgrade; to enable everyone to demonstrate their knowledge and to practice communication, coexistence and tolerance. ‘We hope that you remember your stay in Belgrade with emotion and friendship; so that your stay is of better quality, and richer in experiences, the most important thing is to be part of a society that is more tolerant and more humane, in a trans-modern society in which we are all winners.’ With these words he declared the 27th Annual Conference in Belgrade open.

Partial view of the hallPartial view of the hallthe Ivo Lola Ribar choirthe Ivo Lola Ribar choir

Branco VeselinovicBranco VeselinovicSlavoljub Vicic Slavoljub Vicic

A children’s choir, the quite wonderful ‘Hummingbird-Colibri’, then  performed as a prelude to the speech by Ana Paula Pais, who had been AEHT President for one year. Choosing her words carefully, the President greeted the audience before presenting the broad outlines of what the AEHT had achieved, enumerating the challenges and motivations but also its responsibilities and obligations. ‘The AEHT is the base and the support for new projects and initiatives. Its mission is to offer new services and to promote the schools’ projects. I am so glad to see here in Belgrade 140 directors, 160 teachers and around 300 students. I wish them all the best for their stay here to create contacts, to have fun, to make full use of this event in this beautiful city. Thanks to you all, and a special thank-you to the organisers'.

The Hummingbird-Colibri choirThe Hummingbird-Colibri choirAEHT President Ana Paula PaisAEHT President Ana Paula Pais

After these official speeches, the dancers from the ‘Una saga serbice’ troupe took the floor, in a style that was both contemporary and graceful, before handing over to Rasim Ljacic, Minister of Tourism, who expressed in a few words his pleasure at seeing such a large gathering devoted to tourism, while also congratulating the Belgrade school on organising the Conference in Belgrade. He concluded by wishing all the foreign guests an excellent stay in Belgrade and wishing the competitors much enjoyment.

Dancers of the Una saga serbice troupe Dancers of the Una saga serbice troupe
Dancers of the ‘Una saga serbice’ troupe 

All the performers then returned to the stage to sing or dance, before handing back the stage for the traditional parade of national flags, each of which was followed by the respective delegation of students. This is a highlight of the conference each year, when the larger delegations march with the smaller ones, but always in a good-humoured atmosphere, and loudly applauded by the audience.

Rasim Ljacic, Minister of TourismSlobodan Stupar,Vice Minister of EducationThe Austrian DelegationThe Austrian Delegation

The Italian Delegation, the most impressive in terms of numbersThe Italian Delegation, the most impressive in terms of numbers The Serb DelegationThe Serb Delegation

And the ceremony concluded with a loud ‘jubiej’ or else its equivalent of ‘cheers’, thus giving the starting signal for the competitions, the meetings and the tourist visits schedules for the coming days! 

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