The Association of Women Travel Executives has welcomed the appointment of a woman as the new chief executive of Thomas Cook.

Harriet Green replaces Sam Weihagen on July 20 at the helm of Thomas Cook and comes after a long search for a successor to Manny Fontenla-Novoa who left Cook last year as the group’s financial woes started to become apparent.

Amdanda Taylor, chairman of the AWTE, said Green’s appointment will inspire women currently in the sector.

She said: “Our association has been supporting our members with our Boardroom Ready seminars covering all aspects of board management  for the development of executive and non-executive positions and Harriet’s’ appointment will inspire many women in travel to continue to work towards these senior positions.”

As well as being a role model for the industry, former AWTE chairman Karen Ramirez is hopeful Green’s “plain-speaking” reputation and the fact she comes from outside the industry will be an asset to the company and trade in general.

She said: “As she hasn’t come from the industry, she can capitalise on this quality [for plain speaking], addressing any “elephants in the room” head-on without the baggage of past politics and existing relationships. Women are generally good at identifying areas of sensitivity and legacy issues that may be blocking progress within an organisation and focusing on – sensitively – sorting it out and getting the job done.”

She added: “For an industry with such a intake of women, the number at the highest levels is disproportionately low; I hope she’ll be a great role-model for the women in travel aspiring to board level.

“A new face from outside the industry is a positive thing – her strength will be in bringing fresh ideas, new ways of looking at doing business and expertise from another sector from which Thomas Cook and travel generally will be able to learn and benefit; many strategies and business practices can be cross-transferable to new industries when adapted to ensure they are fit-for-purpose.”