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SKAL Madrid and Paris Setting New Trends on How Tourism Responds to Ukrainian Refugees

Doing business with friends is what SKAL members do. SKAL members are senior members of the travel and tourism industry in 317 local SKAL clubs in 101 countries around the globe.

It all started in Paris 85 years ago, and today SKAL Paris set a trend again on how tourism in peace is integrated.

When the human suffering of fellow Ukrainian became a reality in Europe, SKAL had been there from the beginning.

It started with SKAL Bucharest when they hands-on helped the first refugees crossing the border from Ukraine to Romania.

SKAL Duesseldorf member Juergen Steinmetz, who is also the Chairman of World Tourism Network started the SCREAM initiative inspired by SKAL’s activities in Romania.

SCREAM is currently working with tourism stakeholders across Ukraine and the world.

SKAL Clubs in Madrid and Paris joined up to find accommodation in Paris for a group of Ukrainian exiles who arrived in the French Capital. They came directly from the Polish city of Krakow. Organized by SKAL member Pedro Lopez and onboard Grnd Class tourist bus.

SKAL Paris and Madrid organized fo0r the bus to continue to Spain and arrived after two in the afternoon at the center that the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration has in Pozuelo de Alarcón, in front of the Spanish Television complex. 

There the Ukrainian friends were received by the director of Grand Class, by the president of Solidarity Tourism 2020, Estefanía Macías, and the president of Skal Internacional de Madrid, Francisco Rivero.

Francisco was the person who managed the overnight stays for the exiles in the capital of France. On the French site Karine Coulanges, president of Skal de Paris and former president of Skal International (2014) were in charge of the operation.

The former SKAL president Karine Coulanges bought toys for the children, some of whom were babies. They stayed at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Paris.

The Spanish hotel company Room Mate provided rooms to house immigrants fleeing the war in their country. 

The group was accompanied throughout the trip by television journalist Israel García Juez, who has broadcast her trip through Telemadrid and Tele5.

It was an exciting moment to see how children jumped off the bus, as if it was a vacation for them, enjoying their new toys and eating sweets. 

A television crew recorded and interviewed the newcomers. Ukrainian translator, Alexandra Dyschue accompanied the group on their trip.

 The heartbreaking story by a woman and her daughter about having lost their house in the bombings and losing consciousness without even remembering her name was shocking.

Retired Olena, the oldest on the trip, arrived alone from Krakow and has been putting all her hope into meeting her daughter and son-in-law in the Spanish city of Villena near Alicante.

Others will be going to the Balearic island of Mallorca, others to Tenerife, and another family is on its way to Mérida. The Ukrainians will be settled throughout Spain, many staying with relatives.

It was, without a doubt, a great humanitarian task that has been carried out in this first act of “Solidarity Tourism 2020” by Skal Madrid and Skal Paris.

More on SKAL at

TeleMadrid filmed this unique journey:

About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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