Word from the President 2011

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

President's Message December 2011

Dear friends in IFTTA,

Another exciting year for IFTTA is about to end. I therefore take the opportunity for a review of the most important events in 2011.

One of the ‘highlights’ of the year was, of course, the 23rd IFTTA World Conference held in Toronto in October. Our thanks go to Doug Crozier and Tim Law for the perfect organisation. We will remember Toronto as a lively and hospitable city which was really a good choice for having an IFTTA conference. The papers presented on a wide range of subjects all were of high quality and brought interesting insights in the travel business in North America. Of course, the organisers made sure that there was enough time for discussions which, as usual in IFTTA, were intensive and controversial but always friendly.

As mentioned in an earlier message, one of the reasons to have the conference in Toronto was to honour Gerald Heifetz. one of the co-founders of IFTTA, emeritus board member and for many years the editor of the “IFTTA Journal of Travel and Tourism Law”, a predecessor of the “IFTTA Law Review”. Though unfortunately Gerald could not attend the conference, he was in our minds throughout the whole event. Despite being a modest person he has a very strong will, a sharp analytical intellect and a true passion for IFTTAWhenever there was a dispute in the past on which way IFTTA should take according to its claim to be the world organisation dedicated to travel and tourism law, he would stand up and raise his voice in favour of a spirit of respect, openness, plurality of opinions, challenging debates and friendship. A spirit which makes us different from many other organisations regarding themselves as elitist or mainly business oriented. Thus Gerald had a big influence on IFTTA and its leaders and without him IFTTA certainly wouldn’t be what it is today. It was amazing to learn that his personality did not only inspire his friends in IFTTA but also his clients, in particular within the travel industry. In his sincerity and passion and with his fine sense of humour, he will keep being one of the most influential persons in IFTTA’s development. Though all of us who know and love him were, of course, disappointed not to have the opportunity to see him, the exchange of memories on moments we shared brought back a feeling of being near to him. This letter gives me another opportunity to simply say: thank you, Gerry!

Apart from the world confrecne, a regional workshop of the IFTTA Europe section has been held in Salzburg, focussing on air passenger rights and aiming to produce a paper to be handed over to the European Commission.

Last but not least the year has become exiting because of the fact that IFTTA is about to intensify its cooperation with UNWTO to which we have offered our support in developing and hosting the “Legal and Institutional Intelligence Gathering System on Tourism (LIIGST)” including the Tourism Legislation Database LEXTOUR, the Legal and Institutional Framework for Tourism (a country profile database), a Travel and Tourism Law Newsletter and the joint UNWTO/IFTTA Discussion Forum. These tools can be of great value for both, IFTTA and UNWTO members. Harry and I will pay an officila visit to UNWTO next January to discuss the details of the project. Should it be accepted, much work will have to be done by the designated IFTTA group of experts but their enthusiasm makes me sure that it will be successful.

You may notice that this year the message only carries one signature. I sincerely want to thank my Co-President Harry Manuel who always was a reliable and valuable partner in the IFTTA presidency and contributed an equal amount of work and efforts though many of his activities were carried out in the background. In consideration of his position as a judge, he has decided not to run for Co-Presidency in this year’s board elections but to take a step back from the ‘front line’ and serve IFTTA and its Board as Vice President. He was unanimously confirmed in this capacity by the board. He assured me that he there will be no change in his strong support from the new position and I am glad that we can keep working together for IFTTA.

Thus, I wish all of you a peaceful holiday season and a healthy and successful new year in which I hope to see you at one of our IFTTA events.

Warm regards

Michael Wukoschitz