The World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) has appointed Otto de Vries as its new Executive Director.
Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Mr. de Vries also serves as the CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA), a founding member of WTAAA.
In this global role with the WTAAA, Mr. de Vries will provide strategic leadership for the WTAAA as the organisation advocates for balanced consumer rights coupled with travel agency interests across the industry globally.
“Our primary focus will be championing transparency for consumers in terms of choice and options, regardless of the travel distribution channel, and to foster greater collaboration between agencies and related travel partners across the travel ecosystem through open communication and engagements that bring both sides together,” said Mr. de Vries.
Specifically, WTAAA aims to re-establish the Passenger Agency Programme Task Force with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its member airlines in 2024. The goal is to deliver business solutions for the airline and travel agency communities that mitigate and manage risk, driven by commercial principles that add value and provide value and confidence to the customer. In addition, WTAAA will address issues around IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), which promises certain functionality and retailing capabilities but currently falls short in travel agencies’ experience.
“We want to collaborate with IATA to achieve full NDC adoption in a way that works for everyone and does not limit access to content and pricing to the detriment of the travelling public”, Mr. de Vries explained. Beyond airlines, WTAAA is assessing relationships with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and other entities to advocate for the travel industry on taxation, sustainability, market access and more. The alliance also aims to represent agencies in “duty of care” needs and requirements vital and impactful to traveller wellbeing. Otto De Vries brings 35 years of travel industry experience to the WTAAA, including senior executive roles with ASATA, Comair, and Holiday Tours in South Africa. “I’m excited to take on this global leadership role at such a crucial time for the travel community,” said Mr. de Vries.
“My role is to ensure that WTAAA member organisation’s voices are heard in critical discussions on matters that impact the travel and tourism industry and to collaborate on the sustainable growth of our sector.