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58th RDA Annual General Meeting and Annual Conference 2009

Re-elected RDA Board Members (f.l.: Heinrich Marti, Konrad Behringer, Hannes Staggl)

“Good prospects via sound insights: making use of chances presented by the global economic crisis!” was the motto of this year’s 58th RDA Annual General Meeting and Annual Conference from 23rd to 26th April 2009 in Schwerin the State capital of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. This year’s event was jointly organised for the first time with the Gütegemeinschaft Buskomfort e.V. (gbk) / Coach Quality Association. The mood was harmonious, good-humoured and cautiously optimistic about the year ahead.

RDA President Richard Eberhardt made it clear in his opening speech on the current state of affairs that it was very important for our industry federations to bundle their resources and work together in these times of general economic upheavel. The co-operation agreement with the gbk was already proving fruitful as was a collaboration agreement with the bdo – German Coach Federation. Richard Eberhardt stressed that RDA political lobbying was of the utmost importance for our branch at this time. That this was successful was to be seen in the forthcoming re-introduction of a modified “12-day rule” for coach drivers’ hours. The RDA President called for continued and active participation of RDA members at all levels and on all fronts: “The way is the goal and we have to formulate this goal together.” Richard Eberhardt extended heartfelt thans to the RDA Board of Directors for their effective work, to the gbk and RDA Headquarters teams and especially to RDA CEO Dieter Gauf for all his untiring efforts and initiatives.

RDA CEO Dieter Gauf reported on RDA activities over the past year and on specific themes covered such as RDA initiatives against discrimination of coach transport at federal, national and EU levels. The RDA had sensitized many politicians to coach tourism issues, needs and requirements. Key issues included the forthcoming revision of coach drivers’ hours and the introduction of environment protection zones in German towns and cities. Referring to the former, Dieter Gauf stated that “Nobody ever believed we would be so successful in such a short period of time but politics is indeed very much the art of the possible!”

Elections were held for the position of one Vice-President and for two members of the RDA Board of Directors. RDA Vice-President Konrad Behringer and board members Hannes Staggl and Heinrich Marti stood for election once again and were unanimously re-elected unopposed. RDA members also unanimously approved the successful work of the Board of Directors and of RDA Treasurer Ansgar Zoller who presented a detailed breakdown of RDA finances. Later on that evening an enjoyable networking get-together was held in the beautiful Orangerie of the fairytale and newly refurbished Schwerin Castle. This was opened by  Jürgen Seidel, State Minister for the Ecomomy, Employment and Tourism in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and by the Lord Mayor of Schwerin Angelika Gramkow.

The second day of the joint RDA and gbk conference on 24th April was chaired by Gerd Schmitz and opened by the Minister President of the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Erwin Sellering. He stated that‚ Holiday coaches were climate friendly and could reach each and every corner – and that this was particularly important for the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – Germany’s number two domestic holiday destination. Mr. Sellering was followed by the President of the State Parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania who stated that coach travel like books was in business for the long run. There was, however, still great potential to expand incoming coach tourism to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Conference speakers and themes included:

Dr. Karl Heinz Däke, President of the German Taxpayers Association who explained how fiscal funds could be made available for economic development programmes through responsible dealings with tax intakes. His chosen theme was: “Whoever pays taxes requires both thrift and room for manoeuvre in a global economic crisis”.

Prof. Dr. Martin Lohmann from the FUR (German Holiday Travel Research Institute) presented the latest German holiday statistics which show coach holidays maintaining their medium- to long-term consistent stable market share of around 9 % to 10 % of all holidays of over five days duration. There was, however, still plenty of potential to expand this, given targeted marketing and sales initiatives – especially in view of current demographic developments. This was especially so for study-, escorted-, sightseeing- and city break tours. Prof. Dr. Lohmann also examined German coach holidaymakers’ media usage patterns. They were found to be active media users and particularly open to coverage and advertising in classic media such as TV, daily newspapers, radio and magazines, local advertising papers and personal info letters. It was, however, important to generate initial interest via these media and then to capture attention with targeted marketing and creative sales initiatives. Potential and interested coach holiday clients could then be converted to purchase by factors such as convenience and price. Coach tourism could benefit by promoting themes such as health and enjoyment.

Wolfgang Knörr from the Institute for Energy and Environment Research in Heidelberg (ifeu) presented the results of the new RDA initiated study “Comparative Environment Performance of Holiday Coaches – An Analysis of the Environmental Impacts of Different Modes of Transport in Long-Haul Traffic”. In this holiday coaches have been proven once again to be the most environment- and climate-friendly mode of holiday transport. A very important argument when it comes to tackling issues such as coach access to environment protection zones in major towns and cities.

Hartmut Schick, Head of Daimler Coaches and Chairperson of the EvoBus GmbH Board of Management, illustrated in his presentation titled “Project future – the coach as trendsetter when it comes to dealing with major challenges: safety, economical and ecological transport systems” how the coach industry could expand its lead position in terms of environment protection, passenger safety and cutting-edge technology, thus improving future prospects for the coach holiday sector as a whole. Coach holidays could score positive points with the comfort factor and could also effectively compete with air traffic on short-haul stretches. Coaches were also essential for mega events, whether of a cultural or sporting nature.

Katja Dofel, n-tv journalist and Stock Exchange reporter, provided pertinent insights into and background information on the current global financial crisis and on the prospects for capital availability for small to middle-sized enterprises in the short- to medium term.

The conference concluded with an inviting presentation on next years RDA AGM and Annual Conference destination from 21st to 25th April 2010 in Bratislava, capital city of the Republic of Slovakia. A personal invitation to attend was issued by Mr. Gabriel Kuliffay, General Director of the Tourism Section of the Slovakian Economics Ministry. Slovakia he said is simply “a little big country“. The conference ended with an enjoyable and very informative guided stroll in warm evening sunshine around the colourful BUGA (Federal Garden Exhibition) grounds. This was followed by an invitation from the State Garden Exhibition 2010 hosts Hemer to join them for dinner in the BUGA waterside restaurant.

On the following morning, 25th April 2009, RDA President Richard Eberhardt, RDA Vice-President Konrad Behringer and newly-elected gbk Vice-President Hermann Meyering together with Bernd Fischer, Managing Director of the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Tourism Federation, took part in a tree-planting action in the new BUGA Climate Forest, thus setting a pertinent sign in support of sustainability and climate-neutral travel.

The third and final day of the conference programme is traditionally given over to the host tourism destination. It began with an informative walking tour of Schwerin in radiant sunshine with stunning blue skies above. The group then drove across rolling green countryside in two comfortable tour coaches, passing large yellow rape seed fields bathed in warm sunshine along the way to the Baltic Sea, with a stop-over in Bad Doberan for a tour of the wonderfully preserved large medieval Gothic red-brick Minster and for lunch. The group then took the narrow-gauge “Molli” railway for a scenic transfer to the coastal resort of Kühlingsborn where there was ample time to catch a breath of fresh sea air from the pier and for a pleasant coffee-break in the renowned Café Röntgen. The evening concluded with a relaxing boat trip on the Lake of Schwerin with the “MS Lübz” (one of the Weisse Flotte / White Fleet) and a highly enjoyable dinner accompanied by a stunning sunset and impromptu sing-along.


Annette Heinemann
Phone: +49 2244 90 33 33
Facsimile: +49 2244 87 74 22

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