The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has appointed Executive Committee member Robyn Woodhead to its top spot during this year’s online annual meeting, according to a press release. Woodhead joined the committee in 2017, having been an active member of the organization since 2010.
She also serves on IAATO’s Climate Change, Gateway and Deep Field Committees Ms Woodhead was appointed to the new role during IAATO’s annual meeting, held online this year from May 11 to 13.
IAATO Executive Director, Gina Greer said: “I have had the opportunity to work with Robyn as part of the EC this last year. Her involvement both with the EC and the Climate Change and Deep Field Committees underscores her commitment to addressing challenges in a dynamic way and she has been instrumental in evolving the committees to where they are today.
“I’m looking forward to continuing our work as she takes up her new role.”
The appointment comes as Mark Van der Hulst of Oceanwide Expeditions steps down after serving on the Executive Committee (EC) for the maximum term of five years, the last two as chair.
Thanking Van der Hulst for his dedication to IAATO’s safe and environmentally responsible tourism mission, Greer said: “Mark has been an invaluable mentor and colleague to me in the 13 months since I joined IAATO. His love of IAATO and his commitment to the organization and its success is palpable.
“Transitioning into a new field at the beginning of a pandemic presented a very unique situation for me. Mark helped me navigate through these uncertain times with wisdom and good humor and was accessible every step of the way.”
Every year at IAATO’s annual meeting, members have open and candid discussions on safety, environmental protection and self-management. Decision-making is supported by recommendations developed by IAATO’s many dedicated committees and working groups throughout the year. The meeting concludes annually with the voting in of new policies on best practice which support the association’s mission.
It is at the annual meeting that new members are elected to vacant positions on the IAATO Executive Committee. As part of the EC, these members will lead the organization, making decisions on behalf of the membership, where appropriate. The make-up of the EC is designed to reflect the geographical distribution and operational activities of the Membership.
Joining the EC this year are former Finance Committee Chair Steve Wellmeier and outgoing IAATO Membership Committee Chair, John McKeon.
Woodhead said: “I feel very privileged to be a part of IAATO, and it is an honour to now serve as Chair of the Executive Committee. It is certainly going to be a challenge pivoting our industry into a post-pandemic world and into a new future where we will need to manage for safe and responsible tourism growth.
“I feel passionately about the environment we operate in, and confident in our ability to hold our course through the challenges our industry faces and into a more robust and strengthened space.”