The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has announced the appointment of Dr. Damon Stanwell-Smith as Executive Director. Damon will lead the Secretariat and work with IAATO’s Executive Committee to ensure the association is functioning according to its mission of safe, environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica.
Previously UK Head of Marine Environment at the Danish international consultancy, NIRAS and Head of the Marine Programme at the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Damon brings with him a wealth of strategic leadership experience that will benefit IAATO as it continues to build on its successful legacy of sustainable tourism.
Terry Shaller, Chair of IAATO’s Executive Committee said: “we are delighted to confirm Damon as Executive Director. He brings to the job a broad range of experience in commercial innovation, leadership and strategic planning that has involved a wide array of stakeholders and is set against a backdrop of environmental protection. Damon’s knowledge and skills will mesh very well with IAATO’s diverse group of committed operators.”
Damon began his career as a marine biologist, gaining a PhD with the British Antarctic Survey. Before heading programmes at UNEP-WCMC, he has been a project manager and consultant for several multi-national organisations and commercial operators, including expedition leading in the polar tourism sector. He also has extensive practical experience as a commercial diver and contractor with an emphasis on monitoring and research.
Damon said: “One of the great motivators throughout my career has been to find ways of balancing commercial interests with environmental protection, which I am convinced is best served by giving people the chance to experience the majesty of wild places in a carefully managed way. Leading IAATO is an exciting opportunity and I look forward to drawing upon my experience to work with IAATO members and the Antarctic community to deliver safe, sustainable tourism that supports the long-term conservation of this unique, incredible place.”
Damon succeeds Dr Kim Crosbie who will step down on June 1, after 12 years with the association. IAATO thanks Kim for her outstanding contributions and wishes her all the best with future endeavors.