President Ana Paula Pais: ‘the national representatives must recruit …’
Ana Paula Pais was elected in 2014 at the Belgrade Annual Conference, and began the second year of her AEHT Presidency in Cervia. She already had a solid knowledge of her task since she had been a Vice-President since 20??? And, a few hours before the gala evening she took the time to give an up-to-date report.
‘I find that things are much better organised with a new methodology and coordination for each competition. Some schools had found in the past that the criteria were not what they should have been, but thanks to the feedback, it has greatly improved. I think that the participants in this Cervia conference feel happy with the proposed activities.
The general problem of the AEHT is the financial situation, and that is a priority. Some schools are in difficulty. We must seek alternative means of funding and avoid being dependent only on subscriptions. Moreover, the schools must feel that for them the subscription represents an investment, and opportunities for teachers: we must be attractive to schools.
The AEHT has 400 school members, but this membership is likely to decline. This is why the National Representatives must recruit as many new member schools as possible in their countries. We are planning a working session to define more precisely their responsibilities and to provide motivation for the National Representatives. The AEHT’s greatest asset is to have member schools right across Europe. This is the most important thing.
For the future, there is some hope. Tourism is a very dynamic sector with a growth of at least 5% per year. It is a great opportunity for the schools, and particularly for mobility of people and therefore of jobs. This is why we have to define projects in this area, because the schools need a return on their investment.
I was invited by the AFLYTH – the French association of hotel and tourism schools (http://aflyht.net/) – to their conference in Amiens in March; I was very surprised to discover that many French schools did not know about the AEHT. I had the chance to present the AEHT, to meet the directors of these schools and similarly to meet possible sponsors. Next year the AFLYTH will be holding its conference in Poitiers.
Similarly, I attended a meeting of ‘Rete Nazionali Istituti Alberghi’ (RENAIA - http://www.renaia.it/) at the Tourism Fair in Rome.
This closer relationship with the national bodies is important. Nadine, our General Secretary, helps me to ensure that these contacts are followed up and she takes on the work thus involved. We are making progress in this direction but I am not alone, this work is the responsibility of the whole team and I have confidence in them.
Carla Maria Gatti, Director of the IPSEOA Tonino Guerra
Since we had not been able to conduct the interview face to face, a series of questions had been sent by e-mail. Thanks to the help of Francesco Alibi Lanzoni, Mrs Gatti’s right-hand man (and, to be frank, the man who orchestrated the Cervia Conference), the Director agreed to give her point of view.
Madam Director, you have a fine School. How many teachers and students are there? And how many teachers and students took part in the event?
Very true. And the Cervia IPSEOA has a total of 140 teachers and 950 students. So it’s a large machine to operate, as you can imagine. As for their participation in the various parts of the Conference such as the competitions, the reception, the transfers, the reservations, etc., there was a total of 65 teachers and 180 students who participated – and they started work several months before the event itself. Moreover, I should like to thank them all for their commitment.
With more than 600 people registered for the Conference, did you encounter problems with the organisation?
Oh yes, of course. I think that it’s part of organising such an event. But of course all these problems were solved as we went along, and very quickly. For example, we had to change the reservations in some hotels at the request of certain participants. We also had to solve the thorny question of transport, which is always a complex matter. And then for the excursions we had to constantly change the composition of the buses, sometimes as late as 10 pm, to accommodate last minute requests. The biggest problem was finding a location close to Cervia for the gala evening, so that we could arrange the dinner and all the rest for around 800 people!
Now that the event is finally over, are you pleased with the way it went? And have you had any feedback from the participants, whether positive or negative?
We are really very pleased. We have had a lot of positive feedback, we have had compliments on the competitions from the judges, compliments from members of the Presidium on the organisation of the event, we have received very appreciative e-mails from our teachers and our superiors. For example, one judge said to a person in charge: ‘I have been an AEHT competition judge for 23 years and I have never seen such excellent organisation. Congratulations!’
Organising the gala evening on an air-force base must have been difficult to do. Could you say a little more about it? I suppose you had to carry everything to the base, and obtain all kinds of authorisations well in advance?
Ah, how true! We had to request authorisation from the Air Chief of Staff General Pasquale Preziosa to run such an event. It was made possible through the good offices of Luca Coffari, Mayor of Cervia. However, and no-one noticed this, we had to send everyone’s documents in one day – for checks, I believe. And moreover checks were made on all the buses, even if in each bus there was a teacher with a list of the names of the participants.
Impressions from students
I glean the same impressions every year: everyone is happy to be taking part in the competitions, to meet fellow students from across Europe, to be experiencing a very special time. This is the case of: