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RDA AGM 2011: A Strong Voice for the Coach Tourism Sector

RDA – International Coach Tourism Federation and gbk (Coach Quality Association) members voted on a constitution for the establishment of a new RDA-gbk federation at their respective AGMs on 31st March 2011 in the Steigenberger Hotel in Hamburg. The reason for this was to establish a strong and unified voice for the representation of coach tourism interests in the fields of politics and media. The new federation is titled ‘Internationaler Bustourismus Verband – Der gemeinsame Verband von RDA und gbk’ (International Coach Tourism Federation – the joint federation of RDA and gbk). RDA President, Richard Eberhardt, stated that: ‘We plan to bundle energies and use synergies in this new federation to enhance political lobbying in Berlin and Brussels.’  

The RDA and gbk will remain in their existing structures. Press and public relations work, along with political lobbying, will be carried out in the name of the new federation. RDA and gbk training and education offerings will also be more closely co-ordinated. RDA and gbk will maintain their legal and economic independence for core competencies along with their financial integrity. The new federation, with its head office in Cologne, will be run by a voluntary board composed of two RDA and two gbk members. No additional staff will be employed. Resources freed up will be employed in pursuing the new federation’s tasks and objectives.  

RDA President Richard Eberhardt’s presidential address was followed by RDA CEO Dieter Gauf’s summary report on activities and developments since the 2010 AGM in Bratislava, and by RDA Treasurer Ansgar Zöller’s financial report. The RDA Board of Directors was then unanimously acquitted by the membership. Elections were held: RDA President Richard Eberhardt was re-elected for another three year term; Bernhard Kirschbaum was elected as RDA Treasurer for the coming three years; and  Eva-Maria Wagenhäuser-Müller was re-elected as a member of the RDA Board of Directors for another three-year term. The first day ended with a pleasant evening in the imposing atrium of the Hanse-Merkur travel insurance company. Members and guests were addressed by Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, Chairperson of the German SPD social democratic party, and enjoyed entertainment from the Schmidt Theater Hamburg and a lively performance from members of the ‘Heisse’ Ecke musical ensemble.  

RDA and gbk Annual Conference 2011 in HamburgThe RDA 60Th anniversary conference was held in the Schmidt’s Tivoli musical theatre on Hamburg’s world-famous Reeperbahn. A definite highlight was the first-ever speech to a coach tourism audience by Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission. He called for more professionalization in the tourism sector in order to further position Europe as an important international travel destination for Chinese, Russian and South American visitors in particular. He appealed for shoulder season extension and for cheaper offers to attract low-earners. He stated that we could rely upon his continued support – as holidaymakers still required quality coaches, which were not only flexible, but which were also able to reach all kinds of destinations – including remoter hinterland regions. Coach tourism also promoted social interaction.  

MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Chairperson of the European Parliament Legal Committee, discussed the tenets of EU Commission tourism policy and provided insights into the decision-making processes of the European Parliament, the European Council of Ministers and the EU Commission. He warned about seeking separate drivers’ hours for coach drivers only. The maximum degree of agreement and revision had been reached. Any new initiative would be long, weary and not necessarily successful. He stated that urban environment protection zones made no sense as they currently stood, and that holiday coaches should be exempt from access restrictions. A single European sticker should be introduced.  

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Werner Sinn, President of the renowned ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich spoke on ‘Europe in crisis – effects upon medium-sized enterprises’. He compared the current crises facing a number of European countries – Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain in particular – to a Greek tragedy. He saw the outlook for Germany’s future over the coming decade in a more positive light. Germany was at the onset of a major construction boom.  

The conference was concluded on a lighter note by Oliver Geisselhart – Germany’s number one memory trainer. He illustrated that most people’s memories were far better than they thought and presented a number of exercises and techniques which each and every participant could take home and immediately apply in their business and private lives.  

The final evening featured an official reception in Hamburg’s spectacular City Hall where RDA member Peter Hoffmann held a well-delivered and humorous laudation on ‘60 years RDA’. The ensuing party was held in the Hauptzollamt Hafen Hamburg (old custom’s house in the Hamburg Speicherstadt port area). Michael Ellert from Stage Entertainment presented musical stars from ‘The Lion King’ and singer Annika Bruhns delivered a lively potpourri from Hamburg’s musical scene.  

The 61st RDA AGM and joint RDA / gbk Conference will take place from 26th to 28th April 2012 in Graz in the Austrian Steiermark region.  

Vintage Omnibuses accompany the AGM!
A vintage omnibus rally was held in Hamburg on the occasion of the 60th RDA AGM & joint RDA / gbk Conference. The sun shone as historic omnibuses pulled up in front of Hamburg’s magnificent City Hall, and as they lined up along the world-renowned Hamburger Reeperbahn, from where they offered transfers to and from the conference venue and conference hotels.