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Oman Conference, President's message, Media and Images of Oman, Al Hoota Cave, Facebook Competition, Big News from Postojna, Reminder - 2016 Dues
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From the Editor

Jealous, jealous, jealous, jealous!

It is, perhaps, a terrible thing to admit but I cannot shake this feeling as I read the articles and admire the images of the recent ISCA Conference in Oman. What an extraordinary destination, and what an unforgettable experience. Enjoy the articles and reports and photography from the Conference. Wondrous memories for those that were there, and a clear incentive for those of us who were not to never miss another ISCA event ever ever again!!!

Wishing all ISCA Members a safe, happy and healthy Christmas with all the very best wishes for a terrific 2017.

Dan Cove

 
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts...", Lawrence of Arabia.

 

            Message from the President                                                                                                                   

Hello ISCA Members!    
 
We had a wonderful ISCA Conference in Oman during November with over 40 delegates from 13 different countries including: Australia, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Iran, Slovak Republic, USA, and the Sultanate of Oman.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to attend this memorable conference.  Our Omani hosts did a fantastic job squeezing as many experiences as possible into our program.  And as we say, “time flies when you’re having fun!”  And the time literally flew by which is a testament to how wonderful a time we were having.  Thanks to Abdul Wahid Al Farsi, Khalid Mirza, Ibrahim Al Wahaibi and the other team members from Al Hoota Cave for their gracious hospitality!  They made ISCA’s first Arabian experience truly wonderful and unforgettable!

Lectures during the Conference were very interesting, informative, and professionally delivered.  It was perfect learning about the geology of Oman, which gave us a better appreciation and understanding of the landscape we traveled through during the conference.  We heard about the wild caves of Oman and their exploration followed by a lecture showcasing all the adventure tourism options in Oman.  Oman has so much potential as a growing tourism destination.    

On day three we had the pleasure of visiting our ISCA member and host cave.  Al Hoota Cave is beautiful with high quality infrastructure and development -- and an air-conditioned train!  The educational/interpretive area in the visitor’s center was excellent and gave inspiration to many ISCA attendees, including me.  The Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) is doing a wonderful job developing and managing Al Hoota Cave and other sites around Oman.  You can read more in the newsletter about Al Hoota cave in an article by Khalid Mirza, Director of Business Development.  

I like to say in the show cave (attractions) industry that if you’re not growing, you are dying.  We all have opportunities to improve and enhance our show cave businesses and stay relevant for our guests.  The team at Al Hoota is clearly focusing on doing that.  Membership in ISCA and networking with fellow members is one of the best ways to gain knowledge on how to improve and enhance our show caves!

Presentations during the conference included excellent videos of the Australia Congress 2014 and Germany/Austria Meeting 2015, prepared by Franziska Oedl.  Here is a link for your enjoyment: https://www.dropbox.com/s/zu9gizn2ntep36m/ISCA_GermanyAustria_2015.mp4?dl=0
Franziska also photo and video documented the Oman Conference, and I look forward to seeing that video in the future!  In the meantime, she has provided a link to some of her photos in the ISCA Dropbox where she will be adding more photos in the future:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rf9z1g4cw8x9sm2/AACSUr1wzA74qXiAwtL7O0v0a?dl=0
I greatly appreciate Franziska’s efforts to help us preserve ISCA history through her professional photography and videography. 

Our new member and new friends from Alisadr Cave in Iran showed a video which familiarized us with their beautiful water cave and impressive show cave business.  It was great to have them at their first ISCA event.  Alisadr Cave receives over one million visitors per year -- with their supporting attractions and accommodations, Alisadr is one of the largest show cave operations in the world. 
Affiliate member, Alexander Chrapko from Cave Lighting provided a great presentation on show cave development best practices they have learned over the past 10 years with a focus on safety, environmental protection, entertainment, and providing return on investment.  These are all important goals we must work to achieve as show cave managers.  If you’d like to see his presentation, follow this link: http://prezi.com/6uxww_mgzbdw/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

ISCA delegates really enjoyed seeing the Grand Mosque, Royal Opera House, forts, souqs, Al Jeela Tombs, National Museum and learning about the history, culture and traditions of Oman.  Eating in a Bedouin house, riding camels, dunes bashing, seeing sand dunes as far as the eye can see, and spending the night in the desert was magical.  For most of us, this was our very first Arabian experience so we were like kids playing in the sand! 

Going to an oasis and swimming in the cool and refreshing water of the wadi was incredible!  What amazing places and a stark contrast from the surrounding desolate landscapes.  Speaking of swimming, many of us enjoyed the beach and swimming in the Gulf of Oman with the rocky mountains view behind us.  The 4x4 drive in the mountains and opportunity to see Majilis al Jinn Cave was awesome.  Looking down those deep shafts into the cave left some of us yearning to rappel (abseil) in!  Perhaps on my next visit.  Oman has so much to offer as a growing tourism destination and in particular the nature and adventure tourism segments.  Our delegates also felt safe and secure while traveling in Oman, which is essential for any tourism destination. 
 
The final dinner cruise in Mutrah harbor was an excellent grand finale to a wonderful conference leaving all attendees including myself looking forward to visiting Oman again.  Our memories of the beautiful places, history, food and experiences are surpassed only by our treasured memories of the genuine hospitality we received and the friendliness of the Omani people. 
In addition to all the fun, we had a productive ISCA Board Meeting.  Some of the highlights included:
  • Discussion of succession planning in light of our Secretary / Treasurer, Renata Marinelli’s retirement plans.  We have a qualified candidate we are discussing the job with and plan to conduct a face-to-face interview this spring. 
  • The ISCA bank account in Austria has been receiving membership dues payments and the transitioning of book keeping duties is still in process. 
  • Frasassi Vice-President, Riccardo Strano and Director, Luigino Quarchioni participated and re-affirmed Frasassi’s and the municipality of Genga’s commitment to host and provide support for ISCA’s headquarters now and into the future, which we are very grateful for.  They are proud to host the headquarters and have been providing this service since ISCA was founded in 1990. 
  • We also discussed plans for Congress 2018 hosted and organized by Frasassi Cave in Genga, Italy.  This was the location of the 1st ISCA Congress and everyone is excited to have it back in Genga. 
  • 1st Vice President, Friedrich Oedl, Director Mario Bozello and I plan to travel to Genga this spring for ISCA business and Congress planning. 
  • Improvements to the ISCA website were discussed and Director Peter Gazik, peter.gazik@ssj.sk recently emailed ISCA members asking for your ideas on how we can make the website even better.  Please email any suggestions to Peter. 
  • Director Rafael Pages from Spain proposed that we submit a proposal to UNESCO declaring June 6th as the “International Day of the Subterranean World” which the Board approved.  We plan to gather support for this from our friends at UIS and national caves associations.  It is the Boards hope that this public relations effort will help to increase awareness and benefit show caves around the world. 
  • The Board also approved a proposal from Rafael to organize opportunities for ISCA members to meet regionally by working with our member national cave associations.  With the approval and support of these associations, the plan initially will be to promote the national association conferences to ISCA members as additional chance to come together and network. 
  • There are no plans for an official ISCA Meeting in 2017 so we are giving members a break and a chance to save up and get really excited about Congress 2018!  We are considering an ISCA Board of Directors, Commissions, Committees, and Study Groups working meeting in the UK next Fall.   
Overall the ISCA Conference was a wonderful chance to explore and experience the caves, natural beauty, culture, architecture, sounds, tastes and Arabian flair of the Sultanate of Oman!  It also proved to be a great opportunity to network, share, learn and make friends with show cave owners and operators from around the world. 

I hope you find this issue of the ISCA newsletter informative and interesting.
If there is anything I can do to help you or if you have suggestions on how we can better serve our members, please let me know.    

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!  Here’s wishing you a joyous, safe and prosperous New Year!
God bless!

 

President
International Show Caves Association
OMAN CONFERENCE - MEDIA AND IMAGES
ISCA Delegates Assemble!
An International Media Sensation is Born..! President Brad Wuest.
The ISCA Conference attracted much local news coverage.
It was an honour for ISCA to be hosted in amazing Oman
Spectacular and highly distinctive caves 
The breathtaking architectural beauty
A photographic highlight at every turn
One of the most stunning landscapes on the planet

Al Hoota Cave - The Facts

Al Hoota Cave, Oman’s most popular natural tourist destination, and the first tourist cave to open in the GCC, the facilities at Al Hoota have undergone significant upgrades and was opened for visitors on 5th September ahead of the Eid Al Adha holiday.

The cave system is one of Oman’s true natural wonders, with Al Hoota experiencing around 75,000 visitors a year before it closed for renovation. The enhanced Al Hoota experience will enable people to get the most from their visits. Omran interrtduced a new website, featuring online booking and prepaying for tickets as well as a booking office at the cave. The ability to plan a visit online means people can book the elements of the visit they want, creating a bespoke experience.
 
Before even reaching the cave, visitors will get to experience Oman’s only electric train which runs from the visitor centre right into the cave. Omran recently  refurbished and improved the visitor flow throughout the attraction, as well as enabling visitors to discover more about the history of the caves at an interactive  geological museum. Families are well catered for, with a children’s play area and a gift shop on site. A new restaurant adds to the well-rounded experience.
 
The cave system stretches more than 4.5km, with only 500m publicly accessible, however visitors can discover a lot of the systems’ history and features in the geological museum which showcases of over 150 items of rock, wood, corals and other unique materials. The exhibition also provides four interactive stations with a live show of each phenomenon to allow visitors to learn about the formation of this stunning natural phenomenon.
 
Responsibility of the development was handed over to Omran by the Ministry of Tourism on 1st June 2015. Since the handover, Omran has invested in broad enhancements of the site to enhance visitor experience, and to improve facilities at one of the GCC’s most breathtaking tourism attractions. Opening times are Saturday-Thursday from 09:30 - 17:00 and on Fridays from 09:30 -12:00  and 14:00 -17:00.

Khakid Mirza - Director Projects Development 
Oman Tourism Development Co.



Coming soon -  a Facebook photo contest where you can submit your best photos from Oman and ISCA members can vote on their favorites.
 
If you have not friended the public ISCA Facebook page please do so and join our members only page too.  Here’s instructions from our Facebook administrator Ed Mayfield:    

Please go here: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalShowCavesAssociation/
and “Like” the page and encourage everyone you know to do so also.  The more engagement with our content we get the more we spread information worldwide about show caves. You can also “Like” the ISCA page from your show cave’s Facebook page and we strongly encourage you to do this as well.  The administrator of your caves business page needs to follow these steps.  When they log in, at the top right hand corner of the Facebook window, in the blue area, there is an arrow pointing down.  Click this arrow and you get a drop down menu that allows you to “Use Facebook as…...”.  This allows you to interact with, and “like”, the page as your cave!  Feel free to send me content I can post about your show cave or you can post it to the ISCA page yourself from your show cave. 
Please help our Facebook page grow and be a successful tool for promoting show caves!  It’s as easy as “Liking” from your personal Facebook and your show caves Facebook pages and by providing content! 
  
We also have a “Secret” Facebook page intended for ISCA Members only.  This is where we can post internal ISCA information like meeting, conference and congress circulars and updates, registration forms, agendas, renewal forms, news and events, or even asking questions to other cave owners/managers about anything pertinent to running and managing caves.  This is a page that should be kept secret where we only invite individuals involved with ISCA: cave owners and or cave managers and people associated and affiliated with show caves.  
 
The security of the “Secret” ISCA Facebook page also makes it a little difficult to gain access to.  Here are the steps:
 
1. First, you have to personally be friends with an ISCA Member on Facebook who is already a member of this group and ask that person to invite you. If you do not know someone currently, feel free to send me a friend request, www.facebook.com/ed.mayfield01 or search Ed Mayfield and click on the best looking guy that pops up, that’d be me! 
2.  Once we are friends I can invite you to the group.
3.  Then you in turn can invite people on your “friends” list who are involved with ISCA into the secret group. 

We need to grow this secret ISCA Facebook page as fast as we can and then start using it!  It can be a great benefit to ISCA members. If you have any questions or need any assistance, feel free to contact me. 

BIG NEWS FROM POSTOJNA

It seems the autumn school holidays in Slovenia, a long weekend, great weather and baby dragons make for a perfect combination for new, somewhat unexpected events, records. On Tuesday 1 November, the Postojna Cave Park welcomed this year's millionth visitor. Two months before the end of the year, no less. We had been expecting this to happen at some point in the middle of November, but the lucky visitor surprised us on Tuesday afternoon! And this year's millionth visitor might very well be the most important one for us, as this constitutes a new milestone in the operations of our company. Mainly because the last time more than a million visitors visited the Postojna Cave Park within a single year was 31 years ago. The period between then and now was marked by drops in visitor numbers and modest figures. However, over the past six years, we have managed to reverse the trend, have turned it positive and have achieved global recognition. Reaching one million visitors, which Postojna Cave had prior to this year recorded way back in 1985, was no mean feat, therefore, we are proud to announce that we achieved what we had somewhat boldly forecasted six years ago.
 
WE HAVE A PRIZE, WE ARE LOOKING FOR THE WINNER
This happened totally unexpectedly and it took even us completely by surprise, hence we failed to even meet and greet the special visitor and present them with a nice prize. Therefore, we are still looking for our lucky ʽMillionth Visitorʼ. If you visited Postojna Cave yesterday around 14:13 and you still have your ticket somewhere at home or in your car, quickly check the ticket number to see if it’s 16-PJ-3-037794 001. The visitor who is holding a ticket with this number is kindly asked to scan it and send it along with their personal details to the e-mail address pr@postojnska-jama.eu or by mail to the postal address Postojnska jama, d. d., Jamska cesta 30, 6230 Postojna, adding ʽI am the 2016 Millionth Visitorʼ. And, yes, you'd probably like to know a bit more about the prize. Since this is a truly important milestone for us, we would like to give the special visitor who has helped us reach it a special prize: a lifetime ticket to all our sites – in addition to Postojna Cave, this includes all the tours, adventure tours and trekking tours, EXPO Postojna Cave Karst, Vivarium Proteus, the Predjama Castle…everything! Now, off you go to look through the papers hiding in the car and in the bottom of your bags. 

THE MILLIONTH VISITOR - A NEW MILESTONE REACHED MUCH SOONER THAN ANTICIPATED

REMINDER - 2016 DUES
Many thanks to those ISCA Members who have paid their 2016 membership dues promptly. However, there are still a number of sites and individuals who are outstanding in their 2016 account. Reminders will be sent out by January 2017 to these members. 

 

ISCA Calendar

23-29 July 2017

17th UIS Congress: Sydney, Australia

October 2018

8th Congress of ISCA: Frasassi Cave, Genga, Italy

Main Contributors


Brad Wuest
ISCA President

Khakid Mirza - Director Projects Development 
Oman Tourism Development Co.

Images from Franziska Oedl



 
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