2008-12-16

15 Japan Healing Onsen Ryokan & Hotels for YOU

Healing Onsen for YOU!



For your information, the cover story of TravelCom Monthly 2008 December Issue (行遍天下12月號) entitled “Healing Onsen for YOU” is written by Spa Lady Windy . (22 pages, P.P. 50 to 71)

The word “Onsen” & “YOU” both mean “hot spring(溫泉)” in Japanese.


Immersion in water, particularly a large Onsen hot tub, whether it be outdoor or indoor gives one a feeling of buoyancy and fitness. I am not alone in this feeling. Archimedes himself, demonstrated to the world, that through displacement of water, upward motion and other reasons too complicated to go into here, the weight of an object, even a human body, is only one tenth of its starting weight once it is submerged in water! So, no matter how large or ungainly you feel on dry land, you will feel transformed in the tub! The ugly duckling can become a beautiful swan.

As you prepare to enter the hot spring, you place your belongings and shed your clothes into a bamboo basket for safekeeping. Likewise your worries, burdens, ties and sorrows are cast aside and you enter the bath with a body, mind and soul that are free from care and concern. Free to think and reflect without the shackles of daily problems. When you retrieve your belongings, you often find some of your troubles have been left behind in the basket!



Without these worries your mind is free to think and to be creative. I am often inspired to write when I am in Onsen. Likewise, many renowned Japanese writers penned some of their more famous works after a trip to the tub. Bathing in ‘Onsen’ appears to have inspired many to write hundreds of creative and absorbing stories that find a place on the family bookshelf.



Spa Lady prepared 15 Japan Healing Onsen Ryokan & Hotels for YOU, please do enjoy!

2008-10-29

Open Table and Relais & Châteaux Signed Online “Quality Supplier”

Open Table and Relais & Châteaux
Signed Online
“Quality Supplier”

Relais & Châteaux and OpenTable Europe have signed a “Quality Supplier” agreement to allow efficient online booking operations at their 480 of the world’s finest hotels and gourmet restaurants in 56 countries.

The first technology partnership for Relais & Châteaux, this relationship enables the association to provide its members with a solution to streamline their operations and provide a real-time restaurant reservation service for their guests. The announcement follows OpenTable’s recent milestone of seating more than 3 million diners in the month of May at restaurants through reservations booked through the OpenTable network.

For more than fifty years, Relais & Châteaux has championed gastronomic innovation as an integral part of its philosophy. With its collection of the world’s finest restaurants and small hotels, the association has become synonymous with haute cuisine. The OpenTable system is already being used by a number of distinguished Relais and Châteaux properties around the world such as Daniel, GästeHaus Klaus Erfort, Jean-Georges, Johann Lafer’s Stromburg, Le Bernardin, Per Se, Residenz Heinz Winkler, Restaurant Toqué!, and The French Laundry.

"This partnership reinforces our continued commitment to ensure our guests are privy to excellent service,” said Jacques-Olivier Chauvin, CEO of Relais & Châteaux. “Through our relationship with OpenTable, our member restaurants will now have access to a premier reservation and guest management solution and their guests will enjoy the convenience of booking their restaurant reservations online”.

Relais & Châteaux member restaurants will now be able to offer OpenTable real-time restaurant reservation capabilities from their websites, giving guests the ability to make online reservations at a collection of fine restaurants. In addition, OpenTable will draw on its experience working with approximately 8.500 restaurants worldwide to provide the members of Relais & Châteaux excellent service in both restaurant reservations and guest management.

David Pritchard, Managing Director, Europe and Senior Vice President, OpenTable, Inc. said, “OpenTable and Relais & Châteaux value excellence, both in terms of solutions for the restaurateur and service for the restaurant guest. Through this partnership, we look forward to serving the association’s member restaurants — helping them leverage the OpenTable system to streamline their operations and provide their guests with the convenience of online reservations.” (Tuesday, October 28, 2008)

OpenTable Europe為首屈一指的餐廳訂座及賓客管理軟件供應商,隆重宣佈與擁有全球56個國家480間尊貴酒店和餐廳成員的Relais & Châteaux簽訂「Quality Supplier」協議。

此為Relais & Châteaux的首次科技合作項目,有助組織為成員提供可提高營運效率的方案,及為賓客提供實時餐廳訂座服務。OpenTable近日錄得破紀錄數字,在5月份共有超過300萬名賓客透過OpenTable的網絡進行餐廳訂座;隨著創下新里程碑,是次與Relais & Châteaux的合作可謂錦上添花。

逾50年以來,Relais & Châteaux一直以推動美食創新為己任。配合旗下全球最優秀的餐廳及精品酒店成員,組織早已成為烹飪藝術的同義詞。目前,OpenTable系統已應用於部分Relais & Châteaux的著名物業成員,其中包括Daniel、GästeHaus Klaus Erfort、Jean-Georges、Johann Lafer’s Stromburg、Le Bernardin、Per Se、Residenz Heinz Winkler、Restaurant Toqué!,以及The French Laundry。

Relais & Châteaux行政總裁Jacques-Olivier Chauvin表示:「我們一直致力為賓客呈獻非凡的個人化服務,而是次合作便進一步加強這項承諾。透過與OpenTable合作,我們的餐廳成員將可獲得頂尖的訂座及賓客管理方案,而成員的賓客亦可尊享於網上訂座的便利。」

Relais & Châteaux 的餐廳成員可於他們的網頁加入OpenTable實時餐廳訂座功能,讓賓客享用一系列精緻餐廳的網上訂座服務。此外,OpenTable憑藉與全球約8,500間餐廳合作的豐富經驗,將為Relais & Châteaux的餐廳成員在餐廳訂座及賓客管理兩方面提供頂級服務。

OpenTable, Inc.歐洲區執行總監暨高級副總裁David Pritchard表示:「OpenTable與 Relais & Châteaux在構思餐飲企業方案及賓客服務兩方面,均竭誠做到最好。透過這次合作,我們期待為組織的餐廳成員呈獻優質服務──以OpenTable系統協助他們提高營運效率,並為其賓客提供網上訂座的便捷。」

Relais & Châteaux簡介
Relais & Châteaux網羅全球56個國家480間尊貴的獨立酒店和餐廳,於1954年在法國成立,旨在透過挑選出眾而別具風格的服務企業,向全球宣揚其獨特的「生活的藝術」。此外,Relais & Châteaux亦雲集了全球酒店企業家和主廚,共同傾注熱情,致力為賓客提供出色而和諧的服務;Relais & Châteaux這個品牌,正是對難忘感官體驗的禮讚。由加州三藩市葡萄園Napa Valley,至印尼峇里海灘;由法國普羅旺斯的橄欖樹林,至南非的小棧,Relais & Châteaux均帶領賓客踏上快樂之途,在各有特色的目的地尋探獨特之境。Relais & Châteaux 的口號,充分反映出其抱負:
「遍佈全球,特立全球。」

2008-10-26

NEW PATA REPORT CONFIRMS RECORD VISITOR NUMBERS FOR ASIA PACIFIC

RECORD VISITOR NUMBERS FOR
ASIA PACIFIC

PATA’s 'Annual Travel Monitor 2007', published by the Association’s Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC), states that almost 376 million IVAs (international visitor arrivals) were recorded last year – up from around 347 million in 2006.





The strongest year-on-year growth performance in 2007 was in Southeast Asia, a region which includes traditional tourist and traveller hotspots such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, with a 12.2 per-cent increase. However, all destination sub-regions in Asia showed encouraging levels of growth.

The Americas topped the 90 million mark (90.29m) for the first time. Only the Pacific sub-region struggled to maintain momentum with IVAs showing a modest 0.8 per-cent rise at 18.672 m. The top ten performing destinations in 2007 were led by Papua New Guinea, although the recorded growth of 34 percent against 2006 is off a relatively small numeric base. Interestingly, four Pacific island nations make the 2007 top ten. PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Director John Koldowski is full of praise for destinations across the region.


“We’ve witnessed some very imaginative and inventive promotional campaigns from NTOs, airlines, hotels and tour operators – all keen to grab a bigger slice of the Asia Pacific travel cake – and these campaigns are reflected in some very positive numbers. “Macau SAR and Malaysia have produced exceptional results, attracting around 27 million and 21 million IVAs respectively. The challenge, of course, is to maintain momentum in the face of some extremely challenging economic conditions and there is ample evidence that the travel and tourism industry can adapt to this new world financial order,” adds John. It’s not all good news for Asia Pacific destinations however. Sri Lanka for example, showed an alarming dip in arrivals with an 11.7 per-cent decrease on 2006, reflecting increased regional competition and certain domestic issues which influenced traveller choice. PATA’s Annual Travel Monitor has long been regarded as the definitive reference for industry business planners and forecasters. With the global credit crunch forcing travel sector operators world-wide to rework their numbers, the value of this quantitative report from PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre has been greatly enhanced. More than ever this report is now helping planners to better understanding cyclical trends, to make more accurate predictions and to produce more realistic business forecasts. “The Annual Travel Monitor sits above the revenue models operated by hotels and airlines, for example, because it offers quite simply the broadest and deepest ranges of statistical data essential to industry planning and forecasting,” says Oliver Martin, Associate Director – SIC at PATA.

“The ATM provides our company with a wealth of insights on the macro tourism market in Asia Pacific. The quality of the data produced by PATA is unmatched,” says Greg Klassen, VP – Marketing for the Canadian Tourism Commission.

With interim CEO Brian Deeson taking over the reins at PATA HQ in Bangkok, the Association is pushing ahead with plans for major events in 2009. PATA Travel Mart 2009 (Hangzhou, September 22-25) is taking shape with the Association's Events team reporting encouraging levels of interest and commitment from industry sellers. This follows very encouraging feedback from delegates who attended PTM2008 in Hyderabad. There's a bright new look to the Association's AGM and Conference in Macau SAR next April. The draft programme includes dedicated sessions for PATA chapter members.

"It's an opportunity to share best practice with our Chapter colleagues from all parts of the world," said Mr Deeson. "Their feedback is vital as we continue our drive to deliver added value to our members." "We're also finalising plans for PATA CEO Challenge 2009 and I look forward to sharing the programme with members and industry colleagues in the near future," he added.

ABOUT PATA
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a membership association acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry. In partnership with PATA's private- and public-sector members, it enhances the sustainable growth, value and quality of travel and tourism to, from and within the region. PATA provides leadership to the collective efforts of nearly 100 government, state and city tourism bodies, more than 55 international airlines and cruise lines, and hundreds of travel industry companies. In addition, thousands of travel professionals belong to more than 30 PATA chapters worldwide. PATA's Strategic Intelligence Centre (SIC) offers unrivalled data and insights, including Asia Pacific inbound and outbound statistics, analyses and forecasts, as well as in-depth reports on strategic tourism markets. For more information, please visit
http://www.blogger.com/www.PATA.org.

2008-10-24

Going Mobile

Going Mobile!!!

Soon To Be a ‘Do or Die’ Decision for Travel Industry

Mobile phones are now the most pervasive form of technology in Asia and harnessing the new technology available for the mobile platform must be a central part of travel agents’ strategy for growth.

That was the assessment of Mr Desmond Chong, Director of Business Development and Emerging Business of Abacus International, a leading travel facilitator in Asia. He was addressing an audience of travel industry professionals during ITB Asia, 23 October.


With some 1.5 billion mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific, the sheer penetration makes mobiles a powerful tool for interacting with consumers, said Mr Chong. The top five countries for mobile subscribers, China, India, Japan, Indonesia and Pakistan, account for 1.2 billion, or 80 percent, of mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific.

Currently three billion people in the world have access to a mobile phone and only one billion to a computer,” said Mr Chong. “With mobile phone users expected to rise to four billion by 2010, it is not difficult to imagine the mobile phone will become the world’s portal to the internet as well as the key to inter-personal communication.”


The development of advanced mobile technology is likely to have the greatest impact in Asia due to leapfrogging, which means developing countries can accelerate their development by skipping over inferior, costly technologies and adopt the most advanced ones. The growth of mobile in the region is a text-book example.

In the two biggest developing countries, China and India, it can be a struggle to find a fixed line phone connection, however many people have cell phones. On a per capita basis computers are also scarce with fewer people having access to a home computer than wi-fi-capable handsets. In India, for example, many people get their first internet access on a mobile phone instead of a computer.
“Travel is by its very nature mobile and travellers benefit from real-time information and increased simplicity in their travel arrangements,” Mr Chong said. “Most business and leisure travellers currently view mobile as a method to receive real-time updates and information, such as flight delays, gate information and directions.”


Mr Chong highlighted some of the challenges of true mobility in Asia. Chief among these is market fragmentation which complicates payment and raises the cost of transactions. However, he believes that the travel industry has the opportunity to drive innovation in the mobile marketplace as consumer and corporate needs are very much aligned for the sector. (ITB Asia News 2008/10/24)

About ITB Asia
ITB Asia is taking place for the first time at Suntec Singapore on 22-24 October 2008. It is organised by Messe Berlin (Singapore) Pte Ltd in conjunction with Singapore Tourism Board. The event feature more than 6500 exhibiting companies from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East, covering not only the leisure market, but also corporate and MICE travel. It includes exhibition pavilions and tabletop presence for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) providing travel services. Exhibitors from every sector of the industry, including destinations, airlines and airports, hotels & resorts, theme parks & attractions, inbound tour operators, inbound DMCs, cruise lines, spas, venues, other meeting facilities and travel technology companies are all attending.

2008-10-07

New Concept Hotel - KAICHORO in Ikaho Onsen

KAICHORO 諧暢樓
A Place for Wellness Retreat and Comfort
Written by Tomohide FUKUDA (Spa Lady's best friend)

As the 17th-generation operator of the traditional Japanese Ryokan “Fukuichi” in Ikaho Onsen, a hot spring town favored by many writers and artists as their sacred place of inspiration and relaxation, I learned the delicacy and the spirit of Japanese hospitality.



Yoju Fukuda was the 14th generation of my family to operate a “Kaichoro” in Ikaho, Gunma Prefecture. That’s why we are using the same name, but with a new concept and definition.



"Kaichoro" is written as 「諧暢楼」 in Chinese characters.
Each character represents special meaning of our new creativity:
The first character “Kai 「諧」” means integration, balance and harmony.
The second character “Cho 「暢」” means pleasure and relaxation.
And the third character “Ro 「楼」” means storied building.


I created a wellness resort on hotel floors inside an originally traditional Ryokan in order to provide the travellers seeking retreat and comfort away from home.


The goal of traveling, the pursuit of a journey, is to find a home away from home, where you can relax and feel at home while sampling the cuisine beyond your imagination in a space of tranquility—a place where you can totally relax your body, mind and soul, and feel the “touch your heart” service which will comfort you and make you as happy as in a harmonious dreamland where all your sorrows melt away and your body feels refreshed….


“Kaichoro” is precisely a place where we hope that as soon as you step in, you will admire the elegant atmosphere that integrates the exquisite taste of tradition and modernity with a uniquely fragrant and harmonious combination as a "New Japanese" concept style. It not only has a delightful architectural fusion design but also fine cuisine to satisfy your stomach and your soul as you drink all you need and want.


“Eating is for the needs of body and drinking for the needs of soul”. You can also enjoy “state-of-the-art” Spa treatments that rejuvenate your body. Moreover, the personal, considerate butler service will manifest to you our true Japanese hospitality.

My ancestor, Yoju Fukuda, understood the true meaning of travel, and I’m inheriting this tradition and trying to make his dreams come true today.

Please come and stay at our “Kaichoro” so you can experience yourself a true hot spring paradise in a wellness retreat, gastronomy paradise and haven of comfort!

We warmly welcome YOU to our “Kaichoro「諧暢楼」”!

2008-07-26

My Onsen Wuwaki in Ikaho Onsen


Windy Yang, the so-called ‘Spa Lady’, discovered Japanese Hot Springs, or ‘Onsen’, twenty years ago in Japan and so her love affair began. Share her special experiences and you may find yourself falling in love with Onsen too.
(JNTO Website Column 2000 Spa Lady Onsen Love Stories Series No 6)

My Onsen Wuwaki in Ikaho, Gunma

When I feel his touch for the first time, my heart skips a beat, I shake with anticipation, I luxuriate in his affection. When he wraps his warm, watery arms around my shoulders, I sigh with delight….oh, my new Onsen lover!

Have you ever been in love? If you have, I am sure you know of the feelings that you go through in those initial weeks. Think of the sleepless nights as you lie awake dreaming of your new love, the restlessness as you sit by the telephone waiting for it to ring and the pounding in your heart as you anticipate a meeting. The early stages in a new relationship are filled with an, almost, electric passion that consumes you and becomes your only existence. I have, as you know, been in love for over twenty years and as my lover is constantly changing, Spa Lady Windy has been suspended in a state of passion for a long time!

The Japanese like to say that you have found “Wuwaki” when you find a new love. Wuwaki(浮氣) is a new love but not necessarily the only love in your life. It may be a new love affair on the side or love found for the first time. What is sure that it will be passionate and consuming and will have an enormous impact on your life!
They say that few forms of relaxation can rival the sheer pleasure of soaking in hot spring water. Gunma Prefecture(群馬縣) offers a diversity of hot springs experiences – pools by rivers, in old wooden buildings, on mountainsides – try it once and you are likely to be hooked for life! I now know this to be the case and these days need to travel far and wide to get my new ‘fix’. Few are aware but Ikaho has strong connections with Hawaii. When Hawaii was still an independent country, Ikaho was often used as a retreat by the Minister to Japan, a place where he could escape the pressures of diplomatic life. Today, as Honolulu’s sister, Ikaho is not too removed from the infamous paradise of warm and sunny Hawaii. While many people flock to the sandy beaches of Hawaii, I like to think that my paradise on earth, my idyllic spot lies in the warm embrace of my watery Onsen. Ikaho Onsen(伊香保溫泉) is a perfect destination for my obsession. Located on the slopes of Mt. Haruma(榛名山) in Gunma Prefecture, only two hours from Tokyo, Ikaho Onsen has many open air baths filled with hot water, rich in iron. The iron reacts with other properties to create a fluid that resembles the color of Oolong tea(烏龍茶) with a dash of milk. The content of the baths is perfect for women, many of whom are prone to iron deficiency. With a temperature of 40 degrees, I felt like I was bathing in a large elegant cup of perfectly cooled, delicious oolong tea. Although over 1,700 years old, the hot spring gained fame after an article was published in "Hototogisu"(不如歸), a famous magazine of about thirty pages, in the late 1800s. The story, written by Tokutomi Roka(德富蘆花) in the Meiji era, told of a beautiful girl who was inflicted with a terrible disease. She visited the Onsen at Ikaho and felt as if she had come home. Although she gained much comfort from the Onsen, her disease was incurable and she finally died in her beloved land. This sad tale is among Japan’s collectibles and, over the years, has been translated into many different languages. Many people flock to the site to see if the magic can work for them.

Although magical, the Onsen also has support from non-supernatural sources. It is believed that the waters in the spring can greatly enhance fertility. Many women, who were believed by doctors to be infertile, have miraculously fallen pregnant after bathing in the spa. It is also thought that bathing in and drinking the water can help women to fight syndromes that leave them exhausted and lacking energy as well as making the skin more beautiful and shiny. So, perhaps we can nickname Ikaho Onsen, as ‘Health & Beauty Onsen’ or perhaps even ‘Baby Giving Onsen’!

Ikaho is also home to a very respected character in Onsen circles, Dr. Kindayu Kogure(木暮金大夫先生), past President of the Japanese Onsen Association(日本溫泉協會). Besides the healing properties of Ikaho Onsen’s murky waters, people also find it very easy to unwind, relax and forget all their troubles as they bathe in the waters. Writers of many calibers (not least Spa Lady Windy!) visit Ikaho and bathe in the spring in the hope of gaining inspiration from the surrounding beauty. The majestic mountain that rises up behind the resort, the combination of the mountain mist mingling with the steam from the hot spring and the fresh mountain air seem to give a scribe’s pen the freedom to create a masterpiece. The twenty-five poetic stanzas of the Manyo Poetry collection contain within them, nine pieces about Ikaho. Nine monuments, dedicated to these can be found dotted around town. As you bathe in the waters of the hot spring, if you listen clearly, you can also hear the whispers of poetry and literary classics from the Meiji and Taisho eras that remind you of the power of the spa. The remains of the ancient gate in the town seem to protect the spring, as it was intended to when it was built.

Artist Yumeji Takehisa(竹久夢二) first visited Ikaho in 1919 and is said to have fallen immediately in love with the spring and its surrounds. He loved the steaming waters of the spa and the quaint atmosphere of the town, which seems to display its ancient relics with pride. Renowned for his dramatic depiction of women in sorrow, he also reportedly gained much inspiration from the dramatic scenery at Ikaho. Yumeji Takehisa who died tragically at the age of thirty-six, is very popular with women as much for his poetry and children’s folk songs as for his dramatic art. It seems that, in Ikaho, his legacy lives on. Women flock to the resort year round to pay their respects to his spirit and to the Onsen that gave him inspiration.

Ikaho has been my old friend for many years now and I have traveled there on numerous occasions, once to train as a Nakai-san(waitress at Japanese Ryokan). I am fortunate to have a warm relationship with several of the presidents of the local hotels. Many times, I check my post in the morning to find a warm invitation on my doormat. With such generous hospitality being offered, I often find myself with no choice but to accept! Many of the hotels are steeped in tradition and often the same family has enjoyed ownership for generations, son taking over from father time after time.

One such president is Tom Fukuda(福田朋英), who is the seventeenth member of his family line to run the well-renowned “Fukuichi Hotel”(福一旅館). Educated in Germany, he is tall, good-looking and well known in the industry. Running Chigira Jinsentei(千明仁泉亭), another local hotel, is Hidehiko Chigira, who is renowned in the area for his wit and humor. Already twenty-two generations old, his property boasts as long a history as Fukuichi Hotel. Furthermore, it is believed that this is where the author who penned the famous article in ‘Hototogisu’ stayed. Although in his fifties he has a quick wit that is guaranteed to charm. On one occasion, while making a speech, he described his wife as like a small kitten when they married. Now, he said, she has become a tigress!

Although these presidents play an active role in the activities of the hotel, most will leave the organization of the day to day operations in the hands of a capable Okami(女將, female hotelier, wife to president). While the presidents are the power behind the hotel, the Okami are the attractive public front and in fact wield considerable influence in all areas. This leaves the presidents free to pursue other interests and it is a common sight to see these men drinking sake and chatting in the elegant surroundings of the hotel as the Okami take care of all business details. Gunma Prefecture is thus well known for its women who are rumored to be very powerful in one respect – keeping their men relaxed!

I am attracted to Ikaho, not by the handsome presidents that warmly welcome me as their VIP guest but by the powerful Oolong tea springs. Although Ikaho is home to a multitude of beautiful flowers, the spring season at Ikaho is particularly brilliant. The slopes of Mt. Haruna are blanketed in a purple haze of wild Fuji flowers. As I bathe in the warm water and dream of becoming a more sparkling Spa Lady, how could I not fall in love with this purple Wuwaki?

2008-05-29

Skal World Congress 2008 in October, Taipei

FRIENDSHIP & PEACE
through TOURISM

Global Tourism Leaders Choose Taiwan for

Skal World Congress 2008 in October

A thousand of the world’s top tourism professionals will converge on Taipei in October this year for the 69th World Congress of Skal International. While here
they will learn about Taiwan’s tourism attractions, network with each other, establish business contacts, attend business-to-business sessions and tourism workshops, and generally enjoy a good time with old friends and new.

Skal International is the world’s biggest association of tourism and
travel professionals that covers all sectors of the tourism industry, with over 20,000 members of around 500 clubs in 90 different countries. Membership is open to managers and executives who are directly involved in management, sales, and promotion in specified tourism businesses including hotels, travel agencies, airlines, government tourist offices, professional congress organizers, travel media, cruise lines, and car rental firms, among others. In Taiwan there are three clubs: Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung. Plans are under way for a fourth club in Hualien on the island’s east coast.

The theme of this year’s World Congress, which will be held at the Taipei International Convention Center on Oct. 12-17, will be “Friendship and Peace through Tourism.” Taipei began campaigning for the right to host the event back in 2003, and won the bid at the 65th World Congress in Durban, South Africa, in 2004. The initial idea for Taipei to seek the congress came from Skal International Honorary President Salvador Buendia, who passed through Taipei on his way to the Skal World Congress in Cairns, Australia, and was so impressed with the city that he urged local Skal members to bid.


The first Skal Club was founded by travel agents from Paris, who participated together in a trip to Scandinavia in 1932 and enjoyed it so much that they decided to continue meeting on a regular basis after they returned home. Their association began to branch out and sprout other chapters, and Skal went international in 1934.

Skal International Taipei was founded as the first Skal Club in Taiwan in 1970 and now has about 70 members. It is currently headed by President Pauline Leung, CEO of Compass Public Relations and Taiwan representative of the Macau Government Tourist Office (as well as chairman of the organizing committee of the World Congress). Among its members the club counts Madam Janice Seh-Jen Lai, director general of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.


The success of the 69th World Congress of Skal International is being assured by generous support from such sponsors as the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Taiwan Visitors Association, Commerce Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taipei City Government, China Airlines, EVA Airways, Grand Hyatt Taipei, Sheraton Taipei, Grand Hotel Taipei, Howard Plaza Taipei and National Taiwan College of Performing Arts.


Mr. Jim Power, Secretary General of Skal International, was very impressed by the
press conference that Skal International Taipei organized on May 27th at the Tourism Bureau's Travel Information Service Center. "This is so far the best press conference we have ever had," he said. Mr. Steven Kuo Su, Duputy Director General of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, said "We will do our best to support Skal and make this 69th World Congress a most successful and memorable one for Skalleagues from all over the world."

Mr. Kuo Su was a Skalleague some time ago, and he offered his full support: "Even if you need me to some legwork during the World Congress, I will be more than willing to do it for you!" He also promised to become a member of Skal once again.

Pauline Leung, President of Skal Iuternational Taipei, asked the media representatives to help make this Skal World Congress a truly meaningful one.
"Taiwan may not be so well-known to the whole world, especailly people in Europe or Latin America; but through Skal, through this World Congress, we will have travel professionals coming from 90 different countries to stay in Taipei 6 days and 5 nights. They will also have a chance to take pre and post tours to get to know Taiwan; and after this World Congress in Taipei, they will all become super sales promoters for Taiwan as a tourist destination."

Edward Lo, President of Skal International Taiwan, men
tioned the "long history" of Skal Taipei's campaign for the right to host the World Congress Taiwan." 'Friendship and Peace through tourism'" is our theme," he commented, "and we Skalleagues like to make friends and make good business among friends."

Skal Asia President Earl Wieman commented, in fluent Mandarin, that "Hosting the Skal World Congress in Taipei will make Taipei known to the whole world and let Skalleagues discover that here we have the most delicious Chinese cuisine, the most beautiful landscapes, fine international class hotels and hot spring resorts--and more than this, real TOUCH YOUR HEART hospitality!" Earl was wearing the Skal 2008 "uniform" along with Carol Huang, Assistant to the Skal Taipei Secretary, a shining blue silk jacket with a colorful floral design of Taiwan's Hakka ethnic group. All members of the Skal Taipei HOC Committee will wear this creative jacket during the Congress for easy identification.


A special focus for the camera lenses were four students from the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts, all dressed up in Chinese opera costume and with fantastic painted faces. They delighted the press conference participants by posing with them for memorable photographs that presage an unforgettable Skal International World Congress in Taipei.

Taiwan Touch Your Heart http://taiwan.net.tw/
Skål International Official Site 
http://www.skal.org/
Skål World Congress 2008  
http://www.skaltaipei.org.tw/