The newly-elected Skal International President Karine Coulanges speaks to Skal Monaco tourism professionals on October 24, 2013:
“Good afternoon everyone and thank you for the opportunity of allowing me to address you on what is United Nations World Tourism Day.
“In 2012, for the first time, the number of people travelling in the world reached the 1 billion mark. And over 51% of those travelled by air.
“Tourism is one of the only industries that has continued to grow year after year, even during the dark days of the Global Financial Crisis when nearly all other sectors of the world economy saw massive declines.
“Tourism is one of the strongest contributors to the GDP in many countries and governments are waking up to the fact that easing visa and entry requirements; relaxing of air routes and improving connectivity are key ways to seeing their economies grow.
“Tourism also breaks down barriers between peoples – ordinary people meeting ordinary people from different cultures, sharing experiences and creating understanding – tourism is a way we can bring peace to a troubled world.
“At the same time it is vital on this World Tourism Day that we reinforce the need to ensure ALL tourism activity is undertaken with a fully sustainable goal in mind. While peace amongst the world’s peoples is a prime goal, we must also aim to be at peace with our planet, and by ensuring all tourism activity meets a low or zero carbon footprint and is sustainable in terms of resource (both human and environmental) we will have an industry that is the envy of the world.
“Skal International, with 18,000 members in 85 countries, is the largest multi disciple travel organization in the world, and we are committed to working towards the goal of total sustainability, both human and environmentally.
“Skal is a truly global organization and is the first non-government, not for profit organization to be granted a charter to operate in the People’s Republic of China. We have recently opened a club in Beijing and are looking to expand into Shanghai and other Chinese cities.
“Our newest club is in Yangon, Myanmar and we are working on opening clubs in Eastern Europe and Russia.
“The Skal mission statement is:
“Through our leadership, professionalism and friendship, work together to achieve our Vision, maximize networking opportunity and support a responsible tourism industry.
“And our Vision Statement is:
“Be a trusted voice in travel and tourism
“So what are we doing to live up to these high ideals?
“Firstly Skal International is an Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization whose mission is to promote the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
“Skal has adopted the Global Code of Ethics in Tourism, and is also a sponsor to the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from exploitation in tourism, and supports the new project ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty)
“Skal International has developed and hosts the Sustainable Development in Tourism Awards
“To encourage the conservation of the environment and help to promote the development of responsible and sustainable tourism, Skal International initiated these awards in 2002, during “The Year of Ecotourism and the Mountains” as declared by United Nations. Since the launch of the awards in 2002, we have received strong on-going support and attracted a high level of participation, with a total of 482 entrants. This year, the three independent judges evaluated a total of 26 projects from 17 countries competing in the eight different award categories. I take this opportunity to inform you that Skal International is very proud to receive this year the very prestigious World Tourism Award in recognition of its leadership in encouraging responsible tourism practices in the travel and tourism industry through its Sustainable Tourism Awards program as well as being a role model of supporting local communities following natural disasters. The award ceremony will take place on Monday 4 November 2013, 16:30-17:30 Platinum Suite 4, Level 3 World Travel Market, Excel London UK.
“Skal is also a full partner with the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT). This partnership has the goal of establishing 450 Peace Towns and Villages by the end of September 2014, and 2,000 globally by Armistice Day – 11th November – 2018. Each Peace Towns and Villages will be committed to building a culture of peace in their respective communities.
“Skal has also signed an MOU with the Clean the World organization – Clean the World is a social enterprise executing a mission to protect the environment and save millions of lives by leading a global hygiene revolution to distribute recycled bar soap products to needy children and families.
“Clean the World also eliminates needless waste from landfills and incineration plants which contaminate our precious air and water supplies.
“Given that the Skal membership includes some 5,000 hoteliers we see this partnership as a means to greatly increase the Clean the World footprint and help make a real difference to millions of children in the developing world.
“And while Skal is 80 years old next year (2014) we are very active in attracting younger professionals into the organization and have established two membership categories in, Skal Student for those attending tertiary education in tourism, and Young Professionals for those who have completed their tertiary studies and starting their career in the travel and tourism industry. We are fully committed to engaging the future leaders in our industry and ensuring they have a voice.
“In closing I would like to say that Skal International is a vibrant, relevant organization in today’s world and we are committed to be a trusted voice in travel and tourism.”