They closed my favourite destination for a short time.
By that, I mean the airport.
Everyone in our industry is familiar with the question, "So tell me Jan, if you really had to choose, where would your favourite destination be?" "The airport," I always reply, fairly matter-of-factly, "because then I know I'll soon be on my way."
So, they closed my favourite destination for a short time, and like so many other people in our industry, I'd been there not long before. The morning before to be precise, on my way to Kenya. So, I was in Nairobi when I got a phone call from a colleague on the management team. Of course, I didn't take the call: I was about to give my key-note speech at the KICC during the African Mice Expo. Kenya's Minister of Tourism was just reaching the end of his introduction, and it would soon be my turn to get up and speak.
My phone went off again almost instantly, the same person calling. This couldn't be good, it's unknown in fact, so I answered.
"The team's safe", was the first thing I heard. Someone from our team had been close, too close, but had escaped without injury.
My Kenyan friends (who I'd met during the ICCA conference in Buenos Aires) could see from my face that something was wrong. "My team is safe", was all I said tentatively, before going up to speak. They had no idea of what had happened. I started my speech.
"Before I begin I want to say the following: Brussels Airport was under attack. On behalf of the whole SEAUTON team, I want to show my respect to the families and friends of all those who died and wish the best to all who have been injured in these terrible attacks, this morning, in my home country. For me, for us, there’s only one way to react. We will not give in, never ever. In our industry we have the moral duty to keep on meeting up, keep on getting to know each other, to keep on moving and travelling."
Terror and fear were the words that kept cropping up throughout the rest of the day. Stick to our principles and stay resolute were my answers every time.
Until next month,
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