Speaking to BOTT in an exclusive interview, Carl Vaz said, “Skal is an organisation which goes back to 1932 when the Founding Father Florimond Volckaert founded this organisation. It has a rich history, the legacy is very important to understand just as our Skal oath says that it stands for friendship, spreading happiness, good health and long life. That is the true essence of the movement. So, whilst we are all travel professionals it is important to understand that Skal is not a lobbyist body but it promotes camaraderie, friendship and good health among its members that is what Skal is about. You meet each other for business, you network and you build your relationships and have a good time, that is what Skal is all about.
In India its grown very well.I took over as a President in 2020 and now we have grown to 1300 senior Skal members spread across 17 chapters in India. We also have young Skal meant for young professionals and students”. Speaking about the challenges they faced during Covid-19 he said, “As an association we are not like a typical hospitality, airline or travel agent association and our fees are controlled by each club. Our fees are on the higher side as it is supposed to attract senior talent members and it is supposed to be able to generate events like the one you see this evening. It was a challenge during Covid to get the membership fees that were being charged all of that had to be bought down. All our teams in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata had to work very hard to bring the costs down. From national we waived off the fees for the entire 2021, 2022. For those entire two years we waived it down to zero so there were no fees paid to Skal India.
We are now in the process of adding two more chapters. One is in Ahmedabad which will be launched in the next 30-40 days as we do not have a chapter in Gujarat. We are also looking at a third club. We have two in Karnataka, one in Bengaluru and Mysuru which is the venue for the India Congress this year which will be held from October 1 – 4, 2023 and it will be held for two days in Mysore and two days in Bangalore. We are in the process of launching our third club very soon in the Karnataka state hopefully in Bangalore or Hubli. This year we are opening the India Congress even to non-Skal members so that they can come, and experience the organisation as we are on a massive membership drive for 2023-2024. This is the first time we are having the Congress since 2019.”
Sharing his insights with BOTT, the newly inducted President Burjis Mehta said, “Skal Club of Bombay is one of the premier clubs. It dates back to the 50’s and the early 60’s when the doyens of the travel industry such as the Katkaras were instrumental in starting this club. Skal Intl Bombay (144) is nearly seventy years old and as a President it is my aim and vision to ensure that we reach the heights for which we were formed. We were at one time the fifth biggest club in the world which isn’t the case now as there are two clubs in Mumbai. We still aim at becoming one of the biggest and we ensure to cement our place in one of the top five as we plan to increase the members, number of events and bring value to members and our sponsors. We introduce our sponsors to corporate members, tour operators, wedding planners etc. because Skal is a club which has forty-two verticals and anyone among these verticals can become members of Skal so surely there is a return on investment. During the pandemic, India was one of the only clubs as a country which grew whereas others were showing negative memberships but India grew and added clubs and this recognition was given to Skal India President Carl Vaz when he was voted ‘Global Skalleague of the Year’.”