Despite the very short time available to organise this 20th Christmas in Europe in Zagreb, everything was ready on the evening of December 1st to welcome the participants at the WESTIN, a five-star hotel in Zagreb (355 bedrooms and 45 suites) a few minutes walk from the heart of the Croatian capital.
Some delegations arrived by minibus, but the majority came by plane - a total of 15 countries sent delegations from 20 hotel and tourism schools for this event which has become one of the AEHT's favourites.
A welcome cocktail was served in the reception rooms on the 17th floor of the WESTIN, which had been promoted to the rank of operations base for all the participants; the 17th floor was also the venue for the exhibition, with a breathtaking view of Zagreb thrown in for good measure.
At this first meeting of the delegations and organisers, the ‘Zagreb Markovac and Turopolje’ folk group consisting of around 40 musicians and singers, immediately put everyone in a festive mood ready for this five-day event organised around the theme of Christmas. Welcoming the delegates, Marija Razan-Krisanac, Director of the Zagreb Hotel and Tourism School, said how pleased she was to have this opportunity to welcome so many schools to her city to share together these precious few days around the theme of Christmas. Next to speak was Christiane Keller, founder of Christmas in Europe, who briefly reminded her audience that this event would not have happened at all if it hadn’t been for the total commitment of Marija Razan, who picked up a difficult challenge when you think of the short time-scale. But Christiane also urged the delegations to exchange their experiences and to share these moments that were special for us all, in a spirit of Christmas.
And finally the last item was the distribution of the name badges, humorously carried out by Ljiliana Lez-Drnjenic. Each participant received his or her own cloth bag containing not only the indispensable badge, but also a wide range of tourist brochures. In addition, each delegation was allocated two Croatian students, dedicated to them for their entire stay: their task was to smooth out any difficulties that may arise for their charges. This was an excellent initiative, for which everyone showed their appreciation with loud applause.
Now that the ice had been so pleasantly broken, all that remained was to do justice to the excellent buffet which had been laid out in the Opera Hall.