It’s a journey from 2002, when the first woman president was elected by Skal International, to 2022. In the past twenty years, the evolution of women in the tourism industry from a majority of the workers to top leadership roles has been a long and significant one.
Things have changed quite a bit since 2002 when Mary Bennett from Galway, Ireland, was elected to be the first woman world president of Skal International.
Even though Skal International was formed in 1934, it was not until 2002 that a woman was able to reach her top leadership role, and unfortunately typical pattern in the earlier days of the travel industry.
Today, Burcin Turkkan, current world president of Skal International, is the seventh woman to occupy this position since 2002, a clear indication that women have finally been recognized for their talents and leadership ability, thereby penetrating tourism and corporate leadership on a global level successfully.
Other women to hold the position of Skal International president were Litsa Papathanassi, 2006-2007, Greece; Hulya Aslantas, 2009-2010, Turkey; Karine Coulanges, 2013-2014, France; Susanna Saari, 2017-2018, Finland and Lavonne Wittmann, 2018-2019, South Africa.
When asked about how her leadership role has impacted her life and career, Skal International President Turkkan stated following, “Serving as the seventh and youngest female president of one of the world’s largest travel and tourism organizations which have existed for over eight decades is a true honor. More than anything, I am proud to be the first female president from the United States on the Skal International Executive Board. This role comes with high responsibility, especially during the most unprecedented times we are now encountering, due to the residual impact of the pandemic and the recent armed conflict initiated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.’’
‘’Representing over twelve thousand members globally, mostly being decision-makers from forty different employment categories within the travel and tourism industry, requires working harder and smarter during these times to support our members and their businesses professionally while collaboratively addressing the global issues our industry is facing. Currently, SI is striving to show solidarity and support for our Clubs adjacent to Ukraine who are providing humanitarian support to thousands of Ukrainian refugees crossing the borders in Europe,’’ added Burcin Turkkan, President, Skal International.
According to the second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism (2019) by UNWTO approximately 54% of people employed in the travel and tourism industry are women, compared to 39% in the broader economy.
‘As a woman in leadership in the travel industry and a mom, it breaks my heart to see the suffering of children, the evacuation of families, and fathers, mothers, and even single women taking up arms in Ukraine. As much as this is an issue to restore peace which Skal International is on record to resolve diplomatically, what is happening in Ukraine is also a women’s issue to address on Women’s Day 2022. I call on all women, especially those in Skal International, to join with all our Skålleagues to help affected families get through this crisis. The efforts of Skal clubs adjacent to Ukraine, specifically our club in Bucharest, Romania, are to be commended. The Bucharest Skal Club is organizing to assist Ukrainian refugees to that city, already surpassing 100,000 people. Skal International is united in offering this humanitarian aid.” said Burcin Turkkan, President, Skal International.
Skal International strongly advocates for safe global tourism, focused on its benefits— “happiness, good health, friendship, and long life”. Since its inception in 1934, Skål International has been the leading organization of tourism professionals worldwide, promoting global tourism through friendship, uniting all travel and tourism industry sectors.
For more information, please visit www.skal.org.