A word from the new Chairman

Dear members of IATM,

After a cold and long winter period, in which we were all both stunned and lost due to the sudden departure of our Chairman, Christian, we must go on. We are all very grateful to Danielle, Christians widow, who despite her terrible loss, had to cope with keeping watch over the Belgian Country group. She has now passed the torch to me and I have accepted this with enthusiasm.

The world is permanently changing, in every way. War and terrorism, technology, communications, science, etc…

Also the Touring sector evolves and has to adapt. We all have good memories of the busloads of tourists that visited  our region in the past and they were our main source of work and income.

But the landscape changes:

  • More cruise ships (both ocean going and canal boats) moor in our ports. Their numbers go up every year.
  • Customers are also more and more demanding. We constantly have to increase and improve our services,  find innovative ways of entertaining our guests and provide them with up to date and correct information. (they can check your info on the web!).
  • Also the private tours/incentive market is expanding.

Modern technology is also conquering the touring sector. We are now all accustomed  to use different audio devises (Whisper systems). In museums and in the Tourist offices, after the audio guide, the IPod appeared and lately apps can be downloaded on your smartphone. Some large tour operators are experimenting with VR (Virtual Reality).  Although not yet perfected, we can expect daily use of VR in the foreseeable future.

And last but not least: The general trend in both the national or international Tour Manager/Tour guide associations is  a reduction in membership numbers. There are different reasons for this.

All the factors mentioned above seem to work against us, the Tour manager/Tour guide. But nothing is further from the truth; We can act and make good use of all the modern means of information to improve our standards  of competence. 

The key is: Actively share, use and update information. Share your experience with younger members and use the newest technology available and make all this user friendly.

This is of course not something we can achieve in a couple of weeks. We need a medium and long term vision for this.   And we want all members to be actively involved in this. How and in wat way will be discussed and planned at the coming board meetings.  Via the newsletter published on this website you will be kept informed. But all suggestions (some were made at the last AGM-meeting on the 4th of March 2016) are welcome. Our region, over the centuries, has always been one of the most productive regions and the heart of Europe. Let us revive this spirit and make the Belgian Country Region one of the most prosperous of all the IATM regions. 

Also the details of the recruitment programme (benefits for new members, categories, membership fees, application forms, etc…) will appear on the website shortly.

Anyway, the touring season is about to begin, so I wish every member an enjoyable and successful touring season and we will see you all for our Annual Fall Meeting in Namur. Details of the date and the programme will be forwarded later.

 

Georges Depoorter

Chairman

 IATM Belgian Country Region.

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