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SKAL Canada and Europe conflicted over a new Governance Structure


SKAL means doing business with friends, but also fighting with friends. A new Governance sturcture is the reason.

SKAL is the oldest and largest tourism organization in the world. SKAL is known for doing business with friends.

SKAL is also a very political organization at times. Reforms within SKAL can be as conflicted as the Republican or Democratic Party in the United States. Heated discussions among clubs and members are often a result

The endorsement of a new Governance proposal to an upcoming July 9 Extraordinary Virtual General assembly is such an event where not everyone within SKAL acts harmoniously.

This is not an easy job to lead SKAL into the next chapter for the current global SKAL President Burcin Turkkan. After all, leading this organization is a volunteer job.

In preparation for the upcoming SKAL Extraordinary virtual General Assembly on July 9, Denis Smith, Executive Director of Skal Canada endorsed the proposed SKAL Governance Proposal Endorsement.

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At the same time in Europe, Franz Heffeter, SKAL Europe President took a different approach by saying this proposed reform is going too fast, generating unfairness, lack of control on expenditure, and higher fees.

The Board of Skal Italia agrees and posted: Based on the unanimous results of all the assemblies and Boards of Italian Clubs, SKAL Italy decides to reject the proposal for amendments to the statutes and regulations by President Turkkan and his E. C.

In fact, the proposals to amend the Statute of Skal International highlight the lack of a future vision. The objectives to be pursued are not clear and the purpose of such an important change is not made explicit.

Denis Smith in Canada wants everyone to reason. He wrote:

Denis Smith
Denis Smith, SKAL Canada

I have been following the work of the Governance Committee and Statutes Committee and fully support this transition to a new governance structure.  

During my career, I have been involved with many Boards as a volunteer member, as a President, as a restructuring consultant, and as an employed manager.  

In my experience, I have never seen an organization that is rooted with so much passion but so frequently is driven off the rails because of the destructive influence of individuals attacking others simply because they express a different perspective.

I am concerned that we are facing this similar derailing of this new governance model solely because of a very vocal minority that has expressed vehement objections not necessarily based on facts but on assumptions and perceptions.

Here are the facts as I believe them to be true:

This organization has operated with what I have observed as an ineffective governance structure for many years with a very small Executive Board and a very big Council. 

The Council has representatives that have their attendance paid by national committees, individuals who pay their own way, and a large number of individuals who simply don’t show up and yet still expect ‘a voice’ (and some have been sitting at the table for years!).  We rely on a very small volunteer Executive to handle an ever-growing workload who are overtaxed, underappreciated for their volunteer time, and often outrightly criticized for their efforts ultimately, we have seen a recent pattern of people simply walking away because they are overloaded and tired of the abusive nature of other individuals. Who would want this job?

The Governance Committee spent many hours looking at our history, and the pitfalls of this two-tiered structure and interviewed many individuals who have historically lived this process.  In addition, they retained a consultant to look at other international organizations operating structures and, like these organizations, determined that a single Board of Directors was the best solution.

 It is more streamlined and generally made up of people who are sincerely committed to work and will show up.  It also provides two critical elements for success; a larger base of people to undertake the leadership work and a stronger base for effective succession planning.   Let’s have confidence that good people invested a great deal of time to identify a good solution.

The next question is how do we evolve from 6 Executive and 27 Council to a new Board of 15 members.  

The redistribution of representation by Districts and voting delegates is no different than any other amalgamation by a nonprofit, corporate entity, or government. 

It’s a starting point!  It may not be perfect but it should be a living structure that is reevaluated periodically as our membership grows, fluctuates or shifts around the world.  

But for today, let’s set aside these differences of opinions and petty power plays, and even some personal attacks, and let’s focus on launching this new model with the very best people leading this organization. That should be the only goal that we all strive for!

There has been a lot of time and effort invested by many volunteers. Let’s at least show them the respect and acknowledge that they were sincerely working in everyone’s best interests.

Let’s approve this new plan, let’s get on with our work and amical and know that we are not rewriting the Magna Carta to be etched in stone.   We are a social networking organization and we are simply creating a foundation for a new era in Skal! That’s it!

I encourage you to support and approve this new Governance Plan at the Special General Assembly. 

About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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