Litsa Papathanassi from Rodos was elected as the new president of Skal International during the 67th Skal International World Congress held in Pattaya, Thailand last month. This is only the second time in the organization’s 72-year-history, that a woman president was elected.
A member of Skal International Rodos, Ms Papathanassi has been vice president of membership development for the last two years. In her victory speech, Ms Papathanassi said that in addition to promoting the organization’s theme, “Tourism Through Friendship and Peace,” she would be promoting “Sustainable Development in Tourism.” Ms Papathanassi said, “we have the obligation to protect the environment when it comes to tourism and this is why it is so essential to focus on ‘Sustainable Development in Tourism.’ This kind of tourism protects the resources and at the same time creates an alternative form of ‘Tourism with quality’ and profit.”
Another significant event at the congress that also promoted the sustainable development theme was the 5th Ecotourism Awards Ceremony. Skal launched these annual awards to recognize global best practices following the United Nations’ declaration of 2002 as the Year of Ecotourism. This year, 51 entries from 28 countries were received in categories including rural and urban accommodation, tour operators, and educational programs. Entries were evaluated on criteria such as contribution to the conservation of nature and cultural heritage, community involvement, education, business viability and innovation.
Another important event was the Tourism Forum with speeches on preventing exploitation of children in tourism, global scenarios and their impact on travel and tourism, and medical tourism. Finally, a successful business-to-business workshop was held in which 54 representatives from 29 countries, including Greece and Cyprus, participated.
Skal, founded as an international association in 1934, is the largest organization of travel and tourism professionals in the world, embracing all sectors of the travel and tourism industry.