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Monday, 20 November, 2017, 13 : 07 PM [IST]

SKAL World Congress 2017 witnesses historic ‘twinning’ of Indian & US states

After hosting its 64th World Congress in Chennai in 2003, SKAL World Congress revisited India after 14 years for its 78th World Congress from October 5 to 9, 2017, in Hyderabad, Telangana. Held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) spanning over 1,455 sq mt, the 78th SKAL World Congress was organised on the theme of “Together We Can”. The four-day annual affair saw the participation from 600 delegates representing 85 countries who stood together to promote tourism across the globe. SKAL World also elected its new President, Susanna Saari who succeeds David Fisher.

Speaking at the SKAL World Congress, Vijay Mohan Raj, President, SKAL International Hyderabad, said, “By hosting the 78th SKAL World Congress in Hyderabad we brought the World to Hyderabad and made world to view Hyderabad. This SKAL World Congress served as one of the biggest platforms to promote the tourism offerings of our newly formed state, Telangana, among the foreign delegates.” At the SKAL World Congress, 30 exhibitors were present to showcase

their offerings to the delegates who travelled to Hyderabad from across the world. Two Telugu states besides many state government’s tourism departments such as Kerala, Gujarat Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Ramoji Film City, Ark Travels, IndiGo, Oman Airlines, Akquasun Group, Riya Travels, etc., were present along with other exhibitors at the Congress.

During the four-day affair, SKAL International Excellence Awards and Sustainable Tourism Awards were also presented.

The 78th SKAL World Congress saw participation from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Spain, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, UK, USA, Zimbabwe, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Columbia, Bangladesh, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and others.

Twinning of Indian & the US cities
Celebrating the year 2017 as “Indo-US Tourism Year”, a large group of delegates participated from the United States at the World Congress.

Becoming one of the highlights of the 78th SKAL World Congress, 15 cities each from India and the US were selected for the ‘twinning’ and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between these cities to share and exchange best practices in travel and tourism. Katherine B. Hadda, U.S. Consul-General in Hyderabad, graced the occasion. This was the first time in the history of SKAL that all the chapters of two nations fully twinned at the World Congress. Valmiki Hari Kishan, Executive Committee Member of SKAL International, Hyderabad, and Member of the SKAL World Congress 2017 organising committee, said that it is the first time in the history of SKAL International Congress such MoUs were exchanged. While San Francisco and Sacramento were paired with Hyderabad, New York was twinned with Bengaluru, he said, considering the similarities exist between the cities.

First Young SKAL CLUB in Telugu region
SKAL International Hyderabad during the 78th World Congress took the initiative to launch the Young SKAL International, Hyderabad. According to Hari Kishan, “The Young SKAL Clubs are being launched across the world to infuse the young blood in SKAL. Young SKAL International, Hyderabad, is the fifth Young SKAL Club in India and first in the Telugu region. Young SKAL International, Hyderabad, already had 40 members at the inauguration which clearly shows that the youth is enthusiastic to explore the tourism and hospitality industry.”

SKAL Clubs across India becoming active
Following SKAL International Hyderabad, SKAL International Bengaluru has won the bid to host SKAL Asia Congress 2019. Meanwhile, SKAL International Kolkata is also gearing up to host the National SKAL Congress, 2018. Hari Kishan said that various SKAL Clubs across India are working towards launching new SKAL chapters in cities like Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Coimbatore, Vijaywada and Vishakhapatnam. He said that SKAL International Hyderabad acted as a motivation to other SKAL Clubs across India by hosting the 78th SKAL World Congress. “We are thankful to all the SKAL Clubs across India and the Government of Telangana who assisted us in best possible way to host this SKAL World Congress,” he added.

At the 2017 World Congress, SKAL World announced that SKAL Mombasa, Kenya, will host the 79th Skal International World Congress from October 17 to 21, 2018, while for the 80th SKAL World Congress scheduled to be held in September 2019, Royal Caribbean won the bid for Port of Miami, Mexico, and the Caribbean for the seven day cruise on its international class ship, ‘Symphony of the Seas’.

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