Skål International honors women's significant contributions to the Tourism industry worldwide

It's a journey from 2002, when the first woman president was elected by Skål 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 Skål International.

Even though Skål International was formed in 1934, it was not until 2002 that a woman was able to reach its top leadership role, an unfortunately typical pattern in the earlier days of the travel industry.

Today, Burcin Turkkan, current world president of Skål 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 Skål 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, Skål 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 has 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 Skål 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, Skål International 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, Skål 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.

Picture: Burcin Turkkan, President, Skål International.

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 Skål 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 Skål International, to join with all our Skålleagues to help affected families get through this crisis. The efforts of Skål International clubs adjacent to Ukraine, specifically our club in Bucharest, Romania, are to be commended. The Bucharest Skål International club is organizing to assist Ukrainian refugees to that city, already surpassing 100,000 people. Skål International is united in offering this humanitarian aid", said Burcin Turkkan, President, Skål International.