The ‘Dante Forum’ hall in the Dante hotel in Cervia was the setting for the opening ceremony of the 28th AEHT Annual Conference on Tuesday October 6th, before an audience of more than 600 directors, teachers and students who had come here from 30 countries; also included were a number of prestigious guests.
The event kicked off with energetically executed ‘sambas’ presented by two couples of dancers from the ‘Sirena Danzanti’ company from Rimini; they then handed over to Carla Maria Gatti, the Director of the IPSEOA Tonino Guerra in Cervia. Mrs Gatti greeted the assembly, and in particular Ana Paula Pais, AEHT President, Luca Coffari, Mayor of Cervia, Dr. Stefano Versari, Director General for Education in Emilia-Romagna, and Agostina Melucci, Director General for Education in Ravenna. She recalled that ‘the adventure began early in 2012 when the School had been candidate to run the 2018 conference, but that, following the withdrawal of Ukraine which was the victim of tragic events, she was contacted in 2014 and asked to organise the 2015 conference! We decided to accept the proposal while being fully aware of the challenge facing us’. She emphasised the AEHT’s objectives and announced that the competitions would take place in the IPSEOA School’s laboratories, and that the guests who were not involved in the competitions would have the opportunity to discover the region through the numerous excursions on offer. She also reminded the audience about the workshops included in the programme – and then wished everyone an excellent stay in Emilia Romagna, without forgetting of course to thank all the sponsors for their support.
She then handed over to Ana Paula Pais, AEHT President, who started by telling the audience that, following the difficulties experienced by Ukraine which had been scheduled to run the Annual Conference in 2015, it was Cervia that had offered immediately to step into the gap, ‘in recognition of the rich variety of our Association and the vitality of its member schools. The visit to the School in September 2014, followed by that of the Executive Board in March 2015, confirmed that the Cervia School was more than capable of organising the 2015 conference. Thus, thanks to the School’s determination and its ability to mobilise its organising team, the conference programme will enable us to live in one of Italy’s most beautiful regions.’ The President reminded her audience that ‘Tourism is a ‘peace industry’ according to the UNWTO (World Tourism Organisation). In the years to come the AEHT intends to be a leader in new projects, to share initiatives, to facilitate contacts and exchanges among our 400 member schools, to find new partners and new sponsors. To conclude, I should like to reiterate my sincere thanks to the entire fantastic Cervia team for organising the event and for the magnificent programme they have put together for us’.
Agostina Melucci, Director General at the Ministry of Education in Ravenna, then took the floor to express in spontaneous terms a very warm and hearty welcome to the whole audience, reminding them that tourism is the art of hospitality and that culinary arts are above all an expression of love.
For his part the dashing mayor of Cervia, Luca Coffari, expressed his pleasure at greeting such a cosmopolitan audience, and thanked the Cervia School’s team for its commitment and for the considerable organisational task it had undertaken. ‘Hospitality’, he said, ‘is the basis of Cervia, its opening to the world and more precisely to Europe’.
Former AEHT President Alfonso Benvenuto, almost a neighbour of Cervia, emphasised in his speech that Italy has made an outstanding contribution to the rise of the AEHT, particularly in organising the Annual Conferences in Sciacca, Arma di Taggia, Jesolo and now in Cervia. But he also used the opportunity to commemorate Adolf Steindl, a former Vice-President who has passed away over the summer. He concluded by wishing everyone a very pleasant stay.
After another intermezzo of dancing, came the parade of the delegations, preceded by their national flags. As ever, the Italian delegation was by far the most numerous. We saw Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Russia and … the USA.
After a ‘technical’ contribution from Francesco Lanzoni, the conference coordinator, addressed to the participants, there came the moment for the cutting of the ribbon by AEHT President Ana Paula Pais, watched by School Director Carla Maria Gatti and by Cervia’s Mayor Luca Cofferi.
And finally a sumptuous aperitif was served to the delegates, allowing everyone to get to know one another and to share the cup of friendship in an atmosphere that was both pleasant and convivial.