2019 North American Skal Congress: Aloha!

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Skal Philadelphia was pleased to be able to send our Vice President, Mariska Bogle, to the 2019 North American Skal Congress. This yearly event took place at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, April 28. The Congress provided attendees with a great opportunities for networking while experiencing all that Hawaii and the surrounding area. Mariska was able to share business ideas and learn more about our industry and trends during these days.

Check Out our Interview with Her:

Briefly tell us about the purpose of the North American Skal Congress:
The purpose was to bring like-minded travel and tourism professionals, both active and retired, together to discuss and understand new trends, opportunities, and to reinforce and build relationships. It also centered abound how to sustain and grow the organization.

What was your favorite activity of the week and why?
Attending the launch of the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival was my favorite. It featured a sampling of world-renowned chefs sharing their epicurean delights, creative cocktails and delicious wines (one of my
favorites – the Prisioner!) It was set against the beauty of the setting sun over the ocean and the DJ was on! The night concluded with a magnificent fireworks display. While it was a wonderful evening the program focuses on supporting local food sustainability. All items are sourced locally which spotlights Hawaii as a culinary destination. Monies raised support local culinary schools, programs to help small farmers and curriculum to teach children how to grow their own food and make healthy food choices.

Tell us a little bit about Ecotourism. What is it and why is it an up and coming sector in our industry?
Ecotourism is about sustainability as you balance inbound tourism with protecting the environment. They raise questions to make decisions on renting a large motor coach for touring the island or smaller modes of transportation to take into consideration the impact on the environment. Segway and bike pedal bike tours has skyrocketed in demand for the trend of reducing the carbon footprint.

Culinary Tourism is on the rise. What drivers are impacting its growth? Are you noticing any culture trends that correlate to this growth?
Eating has become more than a necessity; it has become an experience. From the rise of the celebrity chefs, food networks and cooking shows, to the farm-to-table movement to experiential dining, tourists are interested in what destinations have to offer and tasting them. Dining has taken center stage.

Define voluntourism for us:
Voluntourism speaks to creating tours, itineraries and experiences that incorporate a “give back” to the area in which you are visiting. For example, before enjoying a beach activity, the group would scour and clean the beach of man-made debris.

From our executive committee, what is the outlook for the near future of Skal International and North
The challenges that North America faces is membership and participation in the congresses. Not as much with Skal International but they are challenged as well. While there has been some growth
with new chapters being created, we are closing chapters at a faster rate due to lack of members. Existing chapters aren’t able to attend the congresses due to the expense. There was an exchange of fundraising ideas and ideas on how to encourage more chapters to attend. As it stands, they are penalized for not attending.

What was the most meaningful lesson or relationship you took away from the trip? One of the most meaningful lessons I gained from attending is the opportunity to exchange ideas, best practices, etc. for not only my business but for growing our membership. We are an organization of professionals from various sectors of the industry with a wealth of experience and new ideas. Meeting and communicating with as many people as I could was an excellent opportunity. I traveled from the airport to the hotel with the President of the Tucson Chapter and we became fast friends. She’s a successful travel agent. I also met a young man from the Orange County Chapter who provides luxury travel and experiences for
companies. He invited me to an event he was hosting in Anaheim to introduce me to some potential clients.

Mariska Bogle is the Executive Director of Philadelphia Hospitality Inc.

To view all details and information about the NASC, visit:

The next upcoming event for Skal International is the 2019 World Congress. Our President Greg DeShields will be attending. To learn more about this upcoming Congress, visit: https://www.skalworldcongress2019.com/

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