Dr Filipe Rocha, Director of the Escola de Formação Turistica e Hoteleira in Ponta Delgada, and organiser of the 2010 Christmas in Europe, wears a beaming smile. Obviously the organisation of the event has gone extremely well.
Did you have any organisational problems?
No, to tell you the truth. Just a few worries because of the flights, I wanted to be sure that the fifteen schools from eleven countries would get here without problems. But you know, I wasn't alone in organising this Christmas in Europe. I had a first-rate team with me: Marlène Damião, our academic director, Sandra Pinto our financial officer, Isabel Medeiros our secretary, Sandro Meireles and Pedro Oliveira our chefs, João Couto in charge of the restaurant. And a good 50 students. They’ve all done a splendid job.
Furthermore we had support from the Region, from the European Union, from the Regional Government and of course from other sponsors and partners. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them most warmly.
I’m also very pleased with the way the planned programme worked out. A lot of people came to visit the beautiful exhibition, particularly the children from the nursery schools; the parade was very good too, even if there weren’t many people in town. The buffet was a great success – as well as the VIPs, I had also invited thirty or so young people from charity organisations.
For me the most important thing is to have provided the opportunity for the whole school to meet other young people from other countries. You know, we are on an island and most of my students have had the chance to meet other young people from different horizons. That was why I was keen to hold this event here in Ponta Delgada. It was also a good opportunity for the AEHT, and more generally the delegations from all these countries, to get to know the Azores.
I’m also happy about coverage on the television and radio and in the press – they have reported the event widely.
Finally, it was an honour for my school to receive all these delegations, and I am very proud of the work put in by all my students, and I really hope to arrange other events of this kind in the future’.
Klaus Enengl, current AEHT President, had also organised Christmas in Europe in Bad Ischl, Austria, in 2004. So he knows both the joys and the tribulations of it. And for this his second Christmas in Europe of his AEHT presidency, he observes the proceedings with an experienced eye.
‘I think that this Christmas in Europe was extremely well organised. One small disadvantage – I think it was one day too long. But I have to say that the closeness to each other of all the important locations of this Christmas in Europe was excellent for everyone. I am well aware that Filipe Rocha had been worried, but as you can see only too well, everything has worked out fine. And I have to say that for once, the participants avoided pouncing too quickly on the European buffet!
The setting of Ponta Delgada, which is such an exotic place, has played a great part in the success of this Christmas in Europe, with its special atmosphere both in town and elsewhere. I really liked having the 200 schoolchildren at the exhibition, this was an excellent idea of Filipe’s.
But as AEHT President and as a past organiser of Christmas in Europe, I find it difficult to understand how certain schools can cancel at the last minute. And I have to say that the delegations who have sometimes come a very long way deserve all praise. But it’s up to these schools to publicise the event so that the idea of this Christmas in Europe is made more widely known.
I also find that the Portuguese students are very pleasant and friendly, and in the same way I greatly appreciate the very positive efforts made by the organisers. 2010 has been a good year for Portugal, with the Annual Conference in Lisbon in October and now Christmas in Europe in Ponta Delgada. Both of these events were very impressive. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2011.
Loizos N. Soroniatis is President of Greece’s General Secretariat for Tourism and when he attended the AEHT Annual Conference in Lisbon in October he agreed, almost on the spur of the moment, to organise the 2011 Christmas in Europe in Rhodes. Why?
Loizos N. Soroniatis is sitting with three students on a café terrace on the quayside, in front of a cup of hot São Tomé chocolate – the best in the world, he says – makes no secret of his reasons.
‘Christiane Keller (Christmas Chris) had spoken to me in Lisbon about the problems which had arisen with Christmas in Europe scheduled for Semmering, Austria in 2011. Now Greece had already organised the event in Rhodes in 2000. We had planned to organise it again in 2012 because of the symbolic significance of the number 12 in the twelve islands of the Dodecanese. So why not do is a year earlier? I just needed a little time to get everyone’s agreement, and the Director in Rhodes is very keen. The island of Rhodes is attractive, it has a large university, the town council and all the local authorities are for it. And of course we will have the support of local tourism businesses.
That’s why we want to make this event into a great celebration, and to take the opportunity to make our 55-year-old school in Rhodes better known.
We also want to make Christmas in Europe in Rhodes into an unforgettable event, and thus to link this one – the furthest out in the Atlantic – with one that is furthest in the Mediterranean!