Frank Oostdam, director and president of the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR), in this interview discusses trends in the travel business, sustainability challenges such as overtourism, and award-winning carbon emissions measurement tool Carmacal.
The interview is part of a special series with winners and finalists of the annual WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow award.
- What brought Frank Oostdam to working in the travel sector;
- How sustainability is becoming a key factor for future competitiveness of travel companies;
- Award-winning Carmacal carbon measurement tool;
- Why “overtourism” is becoming not just a sustainability concern but also a reputation issue for tourism, and what the travel industry can do about it.
Frank, throughout your career you have been involved in a range of industries outside of tourism. What brought you to the travel sector – what triggered your interest?
I always found it inspiring to, every once in a while, break out of the comfort zone and change to a new sector. You learn a lot (also about yourself) by changing the scenery every few years. One thing that always strikes me is that, although products or services obviously differ, the dynamics in each sector are more or less the same.
However, this pattern has changed a bit when I started to work in the travel industry. The travel sector really is a different and unique sector because of this special layer, this unique and remarkable dimension in the things we do.
Naturally, we are involved in optimising our products and services and the customer experience in the travel industry. But what makes it extra special and unique (looking at the “Why” of our sector) is that deep down inside I believe that travel and travelling contribute to a better world. I can’t prove this, but strongly believe it, and this is a driver for me.
Travelling leads to self-reflection, new insights, new ideas, respect for other destinations, other people and other cultures. I always quote Mark Twain here: “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”. I couldn’t agree more.
So that certainly was a trigger to start working in the travel sector. Besides this, tourism is a very dynamic and fast changing sector, which I find fascinating and like to be involved in.
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