First visit to Skål in South America – club Villa la Angostura
We are Laura and Stefan, tourism professionals and members of the Young Skål Club in Rome, one of the most numerous and active Skål clubs worldwide.
In May this year we embarked on a project named “Echoes of the Journey” with the purpose of contributing to the development of sustainable tourism. Namely, tourism that generates opportunities for the local community, protecting at the same time the natural resources and creating more authentic experiences for tourists. The project consists of making a slow trip around Latin America, identifying and getting involved in initiatives in different sectors such as hotels, tour operators, NGOs, training entities and local tourism offices. This way, we hope to learn from each of them and exchange our knowledge as tourism professionals, in a mutually beneficial exchange.
Our main experience is in the areas of sustainable tourism measuring and monitoring, sustainability certifications, communication and online distribution of tourism products which we share with organizations we meet during our journey. An added value of the trip is that we document projects and initiatives we find, keeping record of the destinations visited and putting together a directory of good practices, sharing them through our own website www.echoesofthejourney.com, Instagram account and through Skål.
As part of this journey, we want to promote Skål and visit as many clubs as possible to share time with skalleagues around the region. Skål Secretariat facilitated contact with clubs in the countries we are visiting, and the first club to host us was Villa La Angostura, in the Argentinean Patagonia. We received a very warm welcome by the President Alicia Marson, past president Carlos Barberis and all the skalleagues who were happy to share with us their time and knowledge. Alicia hosted us in her home and we spent two days in this beautiful town with an agenda full of activities prepared by our hosts. It included a meeting with tourism stakeholders, local TV and radio interviews, a boat excursion along the lake Nahuel Huapi and a lovely gathering and dinner with the Skål members. We could not have asked for more!
The stakeholders’ meeting in particular was a unique occasion to have at the same table a variety of actors, including local tourism and environment authorities, tourism business owners, tour guides and architects, among others. We discussed the main challenges Villa La Angostura faces today, defining positioning strategy and the target market to attract. This was also the moment to present our travel project and introduce concept of sustainable tourism, including the importance of measuring tourism impact at destination level. This is very important for Villa La Angostura which is inside national park Nahuel Huapi. Our presentation also included suggestions on how to commercialize and properly communicate sustainable tourism offer to reach main outbound markets.
The radio and TV interviews were opportunities to introduce activities of Skal International, Skål Villa La Angostura and our role as Young Skål members. Villa La Angostura will be hosting the Skål Latin America Congress in April 2019 and the club is already working hard to welcome the national and international delegates.
We have just started our Latin America tour, but definitely being part of Skål is proving to be of great help for our project. It gives us the chance to meet different tourism professionals, providing networking and future business opportunities, as well as the feeling of being welcomed by friends in each place we visit. In turn, we take the opportunity to promote Skål, and in particular Young Skål, motivating young people to join the association and enhance their career in tourism.
Our next stop will be the Skål Club Valparaiso, Chile and we are looking forward to it!