In this paper, the recognition of the visual focus of attention (VFOA) of meeting participants (as defined by their eye gaze direction) from their head pose is addressed. To this end, the head pose observations are modeled using an Hidden Markov Model (HMM) whose hidden states corresponds to the VFOA. The novelties are threefold. First, contrary to previous studies on the topic, in our set-up, the potential VFOA of a person is not restricted to other participants only, but includes environmental targets (a table and a projection screen), which increases the complexity of the task, with more VFOA targets spread in the pan and tilt (as well) gaze space. Second, the HMM parameters are set by exploiting results from the cognitive science on saccadic eye motion, which allows to predict what the head pose should be given an actual gaze target. Third, an unsupervised parameter adaptation step is proposed which accounts for the specific gazing behaviour of each participant. Using a publicly available corpus of 8 meetings featuring 4 persons, we analyze the above methods by evaluating, through objective performance measures, the recognition of the VFOA from head pose information obtained either using a magnetic sensor device or a vision based tracking system.