Page updated 14.11.2014

Susanna Saari is TUAS' first Superstar!

TUAS hereby begins an article series to highlight our own experts, our Superstars. The superstars are people among us who are doing especially brilliant work. They twinkle, shine through and accomplish a lot!

Text and weekday photo: Anne Lehikoinen
Party photos: SKÅL International/Kenny Koala

Lecturer Susanna Saari, who teaches Hospitality Management students at TUAS, has just returned home from Mexico City. In Mexico, she participated in the World Congress of SKÅL International (Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals). Saari was appointed a member of the Executive Committee of the prestigious, world-wide organisation.

“I’m fulfilling my vision. I have a goal, because I want to become President of our organisation. I'm planning of telling the President of the United States at that time: I’m the World President, Susanna Saari”, laughs our ambitious star.

Such meeting in the future is not impossible to envision. Susanna Saari is the fourth Finn and the first Finnish woman selected in the Executive Committee of the organisation. Skål has altogether about 17 000 members from 399 clubs and 87 countries. The appointment is a significant accomplishment for the Turku-based club with 55 members in the field of tourism, and first and foremost for Susanna herself.

In 2011, when Turku was the European Capital of Culture, we successfully organised the 72nd SKÅL International World Congress. At that time, 600 tourism professionals from over 50 countries visited Turku. Obviously, Susanna Saari was among the organisers.

“We do a lot of work for sustainable development. Every year, in our meetings, we award prizes for sustainable development in tourism in seven different categories. This year, the Turku-based Flowpark came in second in the “Major Tourist Attractions” category. It was undoubtedly clear to everyone that I, too, come from Turku”, Saari says gladly.

Hospitality Management trainer Susanna Saari

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Susanna Saari joined Skål ten years ago. She has been a trainer in the field of tourism longer. She started working at Turku University of Applied Sciences already in the last century, in 1998. Somewhere in between, Saari worked as a trainer at Nokia and at the Hilton International headquarters in London for a couple of months.  

“There I gained the opportunity to finish my Master’s thesis on the development of spa concepts. It is easy for me to contact people, because I’m very sociable. I know a lot of hotel managers and the saying according to the Skål slogan applies well to tourism: the best results are achieved by doing business among friends. I find this vital. We must network and use the networks in our teaching work. We “sell” students’ workforce to companies and, as teachers, we’re responsible for that everything goes smoothly both ways.”

Saari continues to remind us that nowadays environmental issues are highlighted in the field of tourism. Recycling and acts that are ecological and socially responsible are noticed. They are very important everywhere in the world. Skål is involved in different Diversey programmes, for example in ”Soap for Hope”. It collects used soaps from hotels to make new soaps for those less fortunate to sell and use. Top hotels also change their sheets to completely new ones once a year and for example, several school uniforms can be created from a large sheet.

“Unfortunately, child sex tourism is nowadays an issue that is under discussion among the people in the field. We must keep our eyes open. Through my contacts and trips I can introduce issues in my teaching that otherwise are probably only on their way to Finland. International contacts are valuable and it is not too bad that when travelling, you get to see the world with the help of local experts.”