Meet alumna Ginger Weerheim!

Meet alumna Ginger Weerheim!

05/16/2024 - 08:32

After the Tourism Management bachelor’s programme, Ginger Weerheim graduated from the Master Tourism Destination Management in 2022. During her studies, she already completed a placement at NBTC (Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions), the destination management organisation for the Netherlands. From placement student in the social media and influencer marketing department to destination development programme manager. Curious about her vision on destination management? Read on quickly.
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  1. Why did you start working at NBTC? 
    I find it incredibly interesting to see how you can use visits to solve certain challenges within an area. During my third-year bachelor’s placement, I was keen to stay in the Netherlands to build a good network. At NBTC, I was seen as a full-fledged team member, which allowed me to experiment and learn a lot, under professional guidance. During my master’s, I again focused my research on the Netherlands, and my visits to NBTC reaffirmed my desire to work there. Towards the end of my master's term, a vacancy became available and I applied. And I must honestly admit that I feel proud to work for destination Netherlands, because don't we all sometimes forget how beautiful our own country truly is? 

  1. What are the biggest challenges you face as a destination management organisation?  
    As the question aptly puts it, we as NBTC are a destination management organisation, whereas many DMOs in the Netherlands are still primarily marketing organisations. This distinction means that as an organisation, we are broadening our internal expertise to encompass a wider range of areas including strategy, research, marketing and destination development. These are four totally different levers that you can manipulate when dealing with a destination, and they are essential for creating a sustainable and future-proof place. However, this also means that many areas are still unexplored, and some activities are in an experimental phase. This holds true not only for our national and international collaborations but also within our own organisation. Together, we are all looking for that new sweet spot where we understand what needs to be done. In my presentations on sustainability, I always put it this way: ‘These times call for change. By change, we do not imply that everything done previously was wrong. Rather, today’s knowledge highlights the need for a different approach in shaping the future. As experts, it is our responsibility to navigate this transition effectively.’

  1. What innovative initiatives are being taken to make the ‘Netherlands’ destination more attractive to travellers? 
    Ever checked out the social media account VisitNetherlands? Take a look and get inspired! Here, our social media colleagues portray an authentic image of the Netherlands - open, innovative and inclusive. ‘New Dutch’ is a movement that has been widely embraced in the Netherlands, showcasing the Netherlands as an international hub of innovation, think for example of sustainable fashion, circular buildings and techniques invented here in the Netherlands that can solve world problems. In addition, NBTC works on enhancing the reputation of the Netherlands together with other top sectors of the RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency). Notably, our stories about cycling resonate well and beautifully capture the essence of our nation. Last year, this also prompted a symbolic campaign centred around the cycling lifestyle. Using an AI tool, users could transform their own streets into bicycle-friendly spaces. In this way, we aimed to offer a glimpse of what any place could look like if cyclists were given priority. Guided by the promise of ‘solving global challenges together’, we aspire to work on innovation and sustainability internationally in this way too. 

  1. How do you ensure that sustainable tourism is promoted? 
    Ecologically sustainable tourism is something we want to promote on several levels. With the advent of ‘Perspective 2030’ (in 2019), we chose to focus only on those visitors who can come to the Netherlands in a sustainable way; by train, car or bus. So based on this guiding principle, we completely turned NBTC's strategy around. Furthermore, from a strategic perspective, we launched the roadmap towards climate-neutral tourism in 2022. We also take part – as the Netherlands - in numerous international vision and strategy formation initiatives, and of course, we incorporate the topic in our strategy for Destination Netherlands itself. Our marketing department is setting up new collaborations on this topic, such as a campaign with Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn and social media campaigns on slow tourism. Our research team is experimenting with different datasets. For instance, they are mapping CO2 emissions per visitor, per country, and by mode of transportation. Additionally, the destination’s dashboard is continually expanding to include more comprehensive information in this domain. From a destination development perspective, on the one hand, we try to share a lot of knowledge by giving presentations to DMOs and policymakers, but we also set up partnerships where knowledge transfer takes place between other DMOs. Because we all work together on zoning management, we provide a long-term vision and foundation for the development of a place. In this respect, of course, the inclusion of sustainable practices is essential; otherwise, from my perspective, you risk being left behind in the future.    

  1. What makes you enjoy working at NBTC every day? 
    The diversity it brings. During my job interview, I very much emphasised that I wasn't done learning, but didn't want to go to university. So I wanted a job after my Master of Arts where I would still learn new things every day. Well, I found that job! For example, I knew nothing about how to work with government authorities and how important that is if you want to further develop a place within a few years. Besides, at NBTC you work for the whole of the Netherlands and you get to visit places (in your own country) that you might not be so quick to visit yourself, but maybe we should visit more often. Think for example of Schokland, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Flevoland, I had never heard of it and neither had my friends. But at night, you have an incredibly clear starry sky here, and the place also has an intriguing history and significance for the entire world. Combining this with what you bring, always adds immense value to locations and brings great satisfaction to my work.

Ginger has since decided to opt for a new challenge and continue her career elsewhere. Would you like to get started at NBTC? Then take a quick look at their website for available vacancies: