2020 was without a doubt the hardest year our industry has faced since the inception of ASI in 1969. Under the duress of COVID, sommeliers around the world showed the resilience of our profession. Many of you have experienced economic hardship and the loss of friends and family to this devastating pandemic. As a board we want to extend our sympathy to all our members who suffered over the last year.
We, the new board of ASI, are committed to supporting you, our colleagues, our friends, and all restaurateurs around the world in achieving a successful 2021 and beyond. Our board was elected on a team concept. It believes we are stronger when we come together and work collaboratively to create opportunities for our sommelier members. Our spirit is strong and our commitment to building programs and partnerships that support our members has never been more resilient.
New and stronger communication tools are needed to link our sommelier community around the globe. Our past leadership successfully established ASI as a voice on the world wine stage. This year, we will leverage the equity of the ASI brand and focus our energy back on you, our sommelier members. You can expect new educational platforms to play a central focus on our 2021 calendar and there will be a renewed focus on the ASI Diploma. The ASI board soon intends to release grids created by our Education, Sommelier Contests and Exam committees as the standard by which sommeliers around the world will be measured. Once these historic works are in place, sommeliers everywhere will have a clear vision of the level of knowledge and service skills they need to be recognized on a global stage.
Although we are still in the grips of COVID, we can now at least look forward to the time when we can get together again. We look forward to sharing a glass with you, whether it is at our upcoming General Assembly in Germany, the Contest of the Best Sommelier of the Americas in Chile or the Contest of the Best Sommelier of Europe & Africa in Cyprus later this year. Until then our thoughts are with you as we fight alongside you to overcome the unspeakable challenges placed before us this past year. Let us all toast to the end of COVID and the new beginnings.