The World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) has appointed Otto de Vries as its new executive director. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, 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, de Vries will provide strategic leadership for the WTAAA as the organization 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 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 traveling public," explained De Vries.

Beyond airlines, WTAAA is assessing relationships with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the United Nations World Tourism Organization (now UN Tourism) 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 traveler well-being.

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.

Related Stories

Most Americans to Maintain or Increase Hotel Stays in 2024

Travel + Leisure Co. Acquires Accor Vacation Club

Avanti Appoints Gina Bang Chief Sales and Marketing Officer

Kenya Airways Completes Integration With ARC Direct Connect