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Jane Thompson receives the first "Don Daly Memorial Award" from SATH Director of Corporate Affairs Stephen Mydanick,and Executive Coordinator Jani Nayar

SATH 11th World Congress Wraps Up!


The industry’s leading conference for education regarding travelers with disabilities and the mature, the SATH World Congress, recently completed a very successful 11th Congress, January 10 – 13, 2007 at Hilton Miami Airport in Miami, Florida. This year’s gathering attracted about 300 progressive travel professionals from around the world who are finding new ways to be profitable in these challenging and exciting times.

This year’s theme was “Get on the Boomer Wagon,” and addressing the Congress was Lauraday Kelley, CTC, MCC, Vice President of Education & Training for Vacation.com, who discussed the how the baby boomers are fueling the growing market for travelers with disabilities. SATH also recognized the efforts of Dr. Stuart Schulman of Kingsborough Community College, the recipient of The SATH Access to Freedom Award for 2006, for the school’s efforts to bring awareness and education of this market to the future professionals of our industry. Among other award recipients were Jane Thompson of the Africa Travel Association who received the first “Don Daly Memorial Award” for her many years of service with SATH. Joan Diamond, Nautilus Tours & Cruises, and Marilyn Ryback, Dupont Plaza Travel Service each received the prestigious “Murray” Award (named after SATH founder Murray Vidockler) for their work over the past 30 years in creating a more accessible environment for travelers.

Delegates also attended a “State of the Industry Panel” moderated by Gary Sain, CTC of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, which addressed issues each segment of the travel and hospitality industry face in this market. Other sessions included dynamic roundtable think tanks for both the supplier and distribution sides, as well as panels on destinations, led by Sue Shapiro, CTC, Shapiro Travel Resources, and another on making money, moderated by Dave Stockert, CTC, Holland America Line. Other exciting education events included a CLIA seminar, “Building a Smart Business Plan” and The Travel Institute’s Accessible Travel program overview. Workshops on traveling with oxygen, sightseeing with a visual impairment, and making websites more accessible were some of the other opportunities where delegates could learn. A highlight of the SATH World Congress is a Trade Show showcasing organizations providing accessible travel and hospitality worldwide, such as Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, World’s Leading Cruise Lines, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Entertainment, and destinations ranging from Tempe, Arizona to Dubai, UAE.

An accessible ship tour of Celebrity Cruises’ Century was another featured event, with a scrumptious luncheon served to the SATH party. This was followed by a visit to Parrot Jungle Island which also showed off its accessible features, as well as the famous parrots and the exciting “Liger!”

The 11th World Congress was attended by many veteran travel agents, tour operators and suppliers as well as many newcomers from the U.S. in addition to many foreign countries. Each year brings more awareness of this “niche” market of over 50 million Americans alone. Destinations, cruise lines, attractions, hotels, airlines and others are responding to meet the special needs of travelers with hearing, vision, mobility, cognitive, and hidden impairments.

Dates for the 2008 SATH 12th World Congress were also announced, and SATH is excited to be going to Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Florida, January 6-9, 2008. For more information on registration or exhibiting, contact Susan at 561-361-0017 or susan@sath.org, or visit the SATH website www.sath.org.