Leanne Harwood elected president of Accommodation Association

Leanne Harwood has been elected president of the Accommodation Association, becoming the first woman to hold the position in the 54-year history of the organisation.

Harwood is IHG Hotels & Resorts’ SVP managing director for Japan, Australasia and the Pacific and has been part of the Accommodation Association’s National Council for two years, and was a Board Member of Tourism Accommodation Australia for two years prior to that.

“I am so very proud to be the first female president of the Association,” said Harwood.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion has been one of the most profound changes in the world of hospitality from when I started out more than 25 years ago. In fact, when I started I was told that I wouldn’t make it in operational leadership because I would probably leave to have children.

“I’ve worked hard to drive change from the inside and have chosen to take on increasingly senior leadership roles. In doing so, I hope I’ve played a role in making it easier for future female leaders.”

Harwood said it a time of “momentous challenge” for the industry and change for the Accommodation Association.

“We are moving into the key stages of the proposed merger with the Australian Hotels Association/Tourism Accommodation Association and we need to ensure progress continues in the right direction to drive the best outcomes for our members,” she said.

“We also have the ongoing fight for more government support for our sector to get us through the impact of Covid and we need to make sure that we continue to build the profile of our amazing industry, along with the skills of our people and the workforce needed moving forward.”

Outgoing Accommodation Association president Julian Clark has thanked his fellow Council members and Association members for their support during his seven years in the leadership role.

“I’d especially like to thank our vice president Simon McGrath, our treasurer Bruce Copland and the two CEOs that I worked with, Dean Long and Richard Munro,” said Clark.

“I am proud to depart the role with the Association in a very strong place – in terms of advocacy, member benefits, financial strength and general Association strength.”