Speakers & Presenters

WFTGA are proud to highlight some of our speakers and presenters who we will meet during our Virtual Conference 2021.

Genevieve Leclerc, CMP

Geneviève has 25 years of experience in congress management and consultancy for associations, having worked for a PCO, for international associations and as an independent consultant.
Geneviève is currently the Managing Director of an international scientific society and a social entrepreneur, having founded two organizations supporting the business events industry, #Meet4Impact and Caravelle Strategies. Her current focus is developing an evidence-based practice of social impact in our industry and accelerating the business events sector’s commitment to sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Her most recent venture, the #MEET4IMPACT project, builds on the synergies of her broad experience in meeting planning, association strategy and sustainability. #Meet4impact is a global non-profit organization with the mission of elevating the industry’s understanding and proficiency in implementing and measuring the societal impacts of business events and the UN SDGs. It does this by building an impact framework that offers a comprehensive process for generating, managing and measuring the positive societal impacts of conferences.
Geneviève is involved in several projects that apply social innovation principles and generate social impact. In recent years, she has founded a network of international associations in Montreal and is very active on the social innovation scene in her home city.

Dr Sam H. Ham

Day 1 / 4th March

Professor Emeritus of protected area management, communication psychology, and sustainable tourism in the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources,

Dr. Ham taught graduate courses on communication psychology, sustainable tourism, interpretation, environmental communication, and international issues in nature conservation. His research has focused on the application of communication theory to interpretive guiding, sustainable tourism, and managing visitor behavior in parks and protected areas.

Professor Ham’s courses on applied communication theory and interpretive methods are in demand both in the U.S. and abroad. To date, he has conducted training workshops in 56 countries throughout North, Central and South America and in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and the Pacific, reaching a combined audience of 64,000. He remains a lead trainer for US land management agencies, as well as for non-governmental organizations and private tourism operators including the World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic, Lindblad Expeditions, and Natural Habitat Adventures.

He has authored more than 400 publications including two best-selling books on interpretive methods (which, combined, have been published in nine languages). In addition, he is executive editor of the Applied Communication book series for Fulcrum Publishing in the USA. His newest book, Interpretation—Making a Difference on Purpose, was published in 2013 and is now in six languages. Professor Ham has presented in excess of 100 papers at scholarly meetings throughout the world and has delivered 67 invited keynote addresses on sustainable tourism and strategic communication at international and national conferences.

Jane Beattie

Day 1 / 4th March
Jane has over 25 years in the tourism sector, predominantly in the areas of visitor experience planning, program and product design, heritage interpretation and guide training in sustainable and eco-tourism environments.
She is currently the owner and principal consultant at Tūhura Communications, a sustainable tourism and heritage interpretation consulting firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States. Past projects include guide and tourism development training both in the US and internationally, providing tourism assessments, interpretive communications development, and visitor experience design for various clients.
She has published several articles in journals such as the Journal of Tourism Management, and Legacy – the bi-monthly magazine of the National Association for Interpretation in the US. Jane has presented at multiple international conferences on heritage interpretation and tourism development and has provided several heritage interpretation and tourism workshops and tourism assessments in locations such as Russia, Ukraine, and Thailand. She is a Master Trainer with the National Association for Interpretation and a Certified Interpretive Planner.

Adam Connolly

Day 2 / 5th March

Adam is an experienced senior travel professional with 20+ years experience of recruiting and managing tour directors and tourist guides for large UK based Tour Operators. Adam is passionate about service and experience delivery and helping individuals improve their tour experience for customers. With frontline customer experience having started out on the ground, working in various global destinations, Adam brings experience of global operations and having navigated numerous significant travel industry crises. A co-founder of Group Tour Professionals and an advisory board member of IATDG, Adam is passionate about the tour industry and working to support those it serves.

marcelo risi

Day 1 / 4th March


Marcelo Risi was appointed Director of Communications of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2018. He first joined the UNWTO in late 2006 to manage global media relations after working for more than 10 years in international broadcasting, as the economics correspondent for the Latin American service of Deutsche Welle (Germany), a producer with the BBC World Service (UK), and bilingual correspondent for the BBC in Madrid. Between 2015 and 2017, Mr. Risi was on special leave from the UN to build up the global media presence of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB).


As an economist specialized in economic development theory and policy (University of Hamburg, Germany), he worked in think tanks in Germany and for the European Union before entering the field international broadcasting. He is a lecturer in post-graduate journalism programmes. Marcelo Risi is a Uruguayan national and speaks English, German, Italian and Spanish.

Lars Bjorkman

Day 1 / 4th March

Business Development Manager
at The Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

Lars is not only the Business Development Manager at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, but he is also an authorized guide in the city. Before settling down in Stockholm he guided on skis, in the Savannah and on hiking trails.
Flexibility is his keyword! 

The Vasa Museum is Scandinavia’s most visited museum until Covid closed the museum on the 20th March 2020. How do we keep busy without furlough? When and how will we be able to welcome 1.5 million visitors per year, again?

Rita Marques

Day 2 / 5th March 

Secretary of State for Tourism of the XXII Portuguese Government, since 26th Oct. 2019

Rita Marques holds a degree (1998) and a master’s degree (2000) in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Porto’s School of Engineering and has an MBA (2007) from the University of Southern California. She has also completed several executive leadership programmes held at the Instituto de Empresa Business School (2018), London Business School (2017) and the University of Texas at Austin (2016).

She was the CEO of Portugal Ventures (2018-2019), Executive Director of Porto Business School’s MBA and Post Graduate programmes (2016-2018), Coordinator of the University of Porto’s Project Unit (2008-2016) and Manager of the Asia-Pacific Market and of the Technology and Tourism sectors at Agência Portuguesa para o Investimento (2003-2006). She was also Senior Consultant at Microsoft Corporation (2006-2007), in the United States, and specialist at ANACOM (2001-2003).

Additionally, she was the Chair of the Portuguese Youth Foundation Supervisory Board up to 2019 and provided consultancy services to several public and private entities related to innovation, public financing, internationalisation and foreign direct investment.

Iva Kutle Skrlec

Day 2 / 5th March
Global Destination Partner, Google

Iva is a senior travel and tourism marketing professional who has been with Google for 6 years and she supports DMOs and tourism industry bodies through her role at Google’s Global Tourism Acceleration Center. Prior to that she had managed Google’s relationship with some of the biggest travel and tourism companies including Emirates Airline, Dubai Tourism Board, Abu Dhabi Tourism Board.
Before joining Google, Iva was a Marketing and E-Commerce Director at Croatia’s leading hospitality company, Valamar Hotels & Resorts and a contributor to the Croatian National Tourism Strategy. She also spent seven years with a leading marketing agency in Croatia, as a Chief Strategist and Managing Director and she served as the National Coordinator for the Blue Flag and other sustainable tourism projects in Croatia.

Erik Wolf

Day 2 / 5th March 

World Travel Food Association (WFTA)

Erik Wolf is recognized as the founder of the modern food tourism industry and the World Food Travel Association. He is a highly-sought speaker, thought leader, strategist and consultant, in the US and abroad, on food and drink tourism issues, and is considered the go-to resource on food and beverage tourism for a wide variety of media outlets that include CNN, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, NBC, Forbes, Click by Booking.com, PeterGreenberg.com, Huffington Post, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and many more. He advises leading global brands such as World Travel Market, Absolut, American Express, Disney, Marriott and Royal Caribbean, and organizations such as UNESCO and UNWTO. His articles, research and books have been translated into dozens of languages.

Ulrich Berger

Day 2 / 5th March 

Founder, CEO, and creative
director of the Guiding Group companies

As an entrepreneur in the tourism service sector for over 20 years, he has a broad network and diverse experience in the field of guided tours.
He is behind a number of technological, content-related, and operational innovations, which today are considered industry standards in the field of self-guided and guided tours, including the first DECT-based audio guide for city tours (in cooperation with the European Capital of Culture, Weimar 1999), as well as the conception of dramatized audio commentaries on points of interest that equally satisfy educational, entertaining and aesthetic demands.
This was followed by successive implementations of new technologies for city tours such as PDA, iPod, mobile phone and smartphone, as well as the in-house developed “all-in-one-Guide”, which combines geo-referenced maps with audio commentaries and live transmission of the guide’s voice.
In collaboration with NEC, Ulrich Berger developed the second generation of the “all-in-one guide” in 2015, now with Android operating system and the first use of DECT technology for the live transmission of the guide, which replaced conventional radio technology.
He has recently succeeded in eliminating the need for special receiving devices by making the participants’ very own smartphones usable for this purpose.
Ulrich Berger is in the vanguard of digitizing guided tours and is a popular speaker at international tourism trade fairs and conferences.

Becky Ly

Day 2 / 5th March
Amazon Explore

Becky Ly is a Sr. Business Development Manager on the Amazon Explore team, leading the Explore teams supporting the United States of America, Canada, and the Asia Pacific. Becky has been at Amazon for 7 years and joined the Explore team over 2 years ago. She fell in love with Explore experiences after taking her first beta session in Japan 3 years ago.

Amazon Explore is an interactive livestreaming service that allows customers to learn, shop, and discover new places right from the comfort of home. Set your own prices, make your own hours, and get paid to share what you love. Join us to learn how to host your own virtual experiences on Amazon Explore.

michael dillinger

Day 2 / 5th March

Currently Vice-president of NFTGA-USA.  Professional tourist guide for 12+ years. Licensed in both NYC and Washington DC.  Certified by Guides Association of New York City (GANYC).  Certified International Tour Manager from International Guide Academy of Denver Co.  He served 8 years on the board of GANYC, four as president. He also serves on the Advisory Team for IATDG (International Association of Tour Directors and Guides) and is on the Arbitration Committee of WFTGA.  Michael offers customized private tours through his own company, Dillinger’s New York.  https://dillingersnewyork.com

panayiotis neufelt

Day 1 / 4th March

Panayiotis is also the Founder and Chairman of the International Independent, a consortium of Cultural and Creative Industries research, economy and policy organisations, and the Chairman of the Arts Council Greece. He has a dual background both technical and creative, as a theatre director, curator and producer, and as an aviation specialist and entrepreneur, and has worked also as a political advisor, consultant, researcher and public speaker. Panayiotis holds an Aviation Management degree (BSc), studied theatre and worked in the performing arts and in the cultural policy and creative sectors internationally.

In This Journey, Don’t “Forget” Your Identity

Markets operate globally… ideas too! People, creativity, travellers, ideas and services are moving faster than the markets.  The cultural regulatory framework mainly provides cover or concise legal, regulatory and constitutional support to society, at a local and national level. So let this journey commence!

Santhosh Kalangi

Day 2 / 5th March

Santhosh is a Product Entrepreneur & Co-Founder of TravStack. TravStack is a Technology Product suite that enables faster digitalization of Tour Operators and Travel Agents. Travstack provides easy-to-adapt business growth tools that bring productivity and automation into daily operations with AI-enabled technologies.

Prior to TravStack, Santhosh founded a deeptech search engine startup that was incubated at Masschallenge Israel & Nasscom. He has a bachelor’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology with experience from MIT-Tsinghua and IOT Labs, Machine Learning & Full Stack web & mobile development.

Santhosh & his team is currently in Singapore as part of Singapore Tourism Board’s Accelerator program to innovate & create valuable solutions for Travel Industry Partners and future-proof travel economy.


Day 2/ 5th March

Daniel Levine (DanielLevine.com) is one of the world’s best-known trends experts. Named “the ultimate guru of cool” by CNN, he is the author of over 20 best-selling books and a frequent guest on international television and radio. Daniel is the executive director of the Avant-Guide Institute, a New York-based trends consultancy, where he is the leader of a huge team of trend-spotters who track the latest ideas from around the globe. From American Express and Microsoft, to the UNWTO and state tourism agencies worldwide, Daniel works with businesses and governments around the world to help them be more relevant, innovative and profitable.

Von harden

Day 2 / 5th March
International Associations of Tour Directors and Guides (IATDG)

Von is a seasoned Tour Operator with over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience and is passionate about helping tour guides, tour mangers, and tour businesses worldwide. Highly experienced in the tour and travel industry, Von founded and manages the International Association of Tour Directors and Guides (IATDG). Since 2016, this niche organization boasts nearly 1600 community members worldwide and produces an annual conference of nearly 400 attendees under his leadership. A champion for guides, as well as their small businesses, last year, Von co-founded the Group Tour Professionals Association (TourPros), which supports and promotes experience and tour-based businesses worldwide.

A graduate of the School of Business and Industry at Florida A&M University, he currently resides in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with his two AMAZING daughters.

Eric Bowman

Day 2 / 5th March

Eric Bowman is the Executive Editor of TravelPulse. A graduate of The University of Georgia, Eric has been working in online media, radio and TV for over a decade. He currently lives in Georgia with his wife and daughter

Vaclav Jurcicek

Day 2 / 5th March

Václav creates amazing customer experiences in travel, by leveraging on technology and innovation. An experienced leader, mentor, consultant and self-professed start-up enthusiast, Václav is on a mission to make people’s lives better through innovation by applying rational problem-solving and creativity.

Václav joined SmartGuide in 2018 to revolutionize the guiding industry. As the Chief Business Development Officer and Co-founder, Václav is responsible for negotiating partnerships with innovative partners in the travel industry like the Singapore Tourism Board, Shangri-La Group, Harvard University and Deutsche Bahn.

With a MsC. in Energy and a Business Administration degree from the Czech Technical University in Prague, Václav was in the management consultancy industry for more than six years, working at renowned firms such as McKinsey. Having lived in Brazil, USA, Germany, South Africa and the Czech Republic, it comes as no surprise that he is passionate about synergising multicultural diverse teams from various backgrounds

SmartGuide app turns every phone into a contactless personal tour guide. The B2B2C platform allows travel businesses to digitize tour guides orders of magnitude faster and cheaper. SmartGuide reached almost 300k users, 400 destinations, including the official guide of Prague, Harvard and many UNESCO sites. It is a perfect enabler of safe tourism recovery from Covid-19 awarded with Seal of Excellence by the European Commission.

Adolfo Reyes

Day 2 / 5th March
World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)

Adolfo is an experienced consultant with over 20 years working in the Travel & Tourism Sector. Adolfo is Head or Membership & Associates at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), he is responsible for developing a program to support small and medium size organisations and incorporate the priorities and actions to those of the council. Previous activities with the WTTC include activities as Industry Affairs Manager where he collaborated in the development of the “Seamless Traveller Journey” initiative working with public and private sector organisations in an effort to harmonize the implementation and use of Biometrics and Digital identity throughout the end to end traveller journey, a multiyear programme that will transform how we travel today and in the future.
Adolfo has also worked as a Product and Technology Consultant in the Americas and in Europe supporting the integration of platforms and solutions in the Travel Sector including Travel Agencies, OTA´s, Tour Operators, Back Office systems and end traveller solutions and APPs. Adolfo has a strong understanding of the value proposition, process simplification and systems in the whole travel eco system.

Mateja Kregar Gliha

Day 1 / 4th March
Tourist Guide – Slovenia
My name is Mateja Kregar Gliha; I am an independent entrepreneur, holding bachelors of Economics and Cultural History. In 1985, when WFTGA was established, I started my career in tourism: as a Student at Faculty for Tourism and Hotel Management in Opatija, Yugoslavia, today Croatia. Soon I have noticed to be a tourist guide in a charming place as Opatija was (and still is) is an honor to every local. I passed some exams and my career as a tourist guide for English and German speaking guests started. Later on, I went abroad to get work experiences in Switzerland and USA and was a post Graduate Student at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. After coming back to my birthplace Ljubljana, Slovenia, I continued my career as a tourism professional: an independent entrepreneur at tourist agency as well as tourist guide. I am a WFTGA accredited international tourist guide trainer and president of the ARGOS – Association of Regional Tourist Guides of Slovenia. I am a doctorate student at University Primorska, Slovenia, topic Innovative tourism focused on Sustainability and Virtual Experiences.

Linnéa Sallay

Day 2 / 5th March


Linnea is an opera singer and violinist. In addition she is a qualified tourist guide in Stockholm and a member of FSAG.

Soraia Ferreira

Day 1 / 4th March

Soraia Ferreira is a transmedia storytelling consultant and trainer at Yellow Pictures.

She teaches transmedia storytelling, interactive storytelling and documentary at the Multimedia Masters – University of Porto; transmedia storytelling at Kino Eyes – The European Movie Masters and storytelling at Porto Tourism School of Turismo de Portugal. 
Soraia holds a Ph.D. in Digital Media – Audiovisual and Interactive Content Creation with Distinction from University of Porto where she researched location based transmedia storytelling in tourism, a Cinema Studies Masters from Lusófona University and a Business Administration Degree from the Catholic Portuguese University.
Soraia started her career in Los Angeles as the personal assistant to the president of Hyde Park International.
In 2005, she founded the production company Yellow Pictures and later on, the production company Yellow Films, where she was responsible for the management of both operational units. Amongst the projects produced is the feature film ‘Star Crossed’.
In 2012, she created and produced ‘TravelPlot Porto’, a transmedia storytelling travel guide and in 2017, she created and produced ‘StorySD’, a transmedia storytelling project that helps professionals to apply storytelling to their own brands and businesses.  
In 2018, she published her book on Amazon, ‘Travel Guide for Kids – Age of Discoveries’.
Independently she has produced since 2003 numerous narrative shorts in Los Angeles, Porto and Lisbon.
Since 2009, Soraia has been speaking and publishing on the topic of storytelling

Elena Balatel

Day 1 / 4th March

WFTGA National Trainer in Moldova, National Tourist Guide in Moldova ( worked with magazines like National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Vogue etc.) Project  Coordinator at Moldova Tourist Information Center. Also loves to do volunteering which is a process of learning.

Expert in developing touristic products, touristic trails ( marked trails with mapping, location on google). Co-founder of NGO ,,Travel Forever, sustainable tourism’’ in Moldova which aims to protect biodiversity,soil, air, water and to have a low impact on Nature while we’re travelling (Beleu Lake, UNESCO site).

Founder of ,, Tourist Guide Moldova’’ the main idea is to encourage our local guides especially from the rural sides to be more visible on social media through storytelling. Managed couple campaigns dedicated to the Tourist Guide Day.


Day 1 / 4th March


Alaskan-born Cheyenne Brown has been based in Scotland for over half her life where she performs and teaches the Scottish harp. Her playing style is characteristically free and creative, making much use of improvisation, basslines and contrasting textures.  In addition to regularly teaching workshops abroad (pre-pandemic!), she works with several different bands including the Bluegrass/Scottish fusion North Atlantic Project, the world music collaboration Homebound, and in duo with fiddler Tory Dugan.  Cheyenne’s solo album, Parallel Latitudes, has been critically acclaimed as “creative and atmospheric modern use of the harp” (Living Tradition).  www.cheyenneharp.com

Nina Buh

Day 1 / 4th March
Tourist Guide – Slovenia
My name is Nina Buh and I was born in the same year as WFTGA was established. After finishing my History and Sociology studies, I went abroad. Only there I realized just how much I miss and love my home country. And when I returned, it did not take me long to find my passion and a new occupation, which I perform with all my heart.

I have been a professional tourist guide in Slovenia since 2015. I live in the Styria region, more specifically, a small town called Slovenske Konjice. Beside tourist guiding I offer also tourism consultancy services. Organizing private tours in East Slovenia, especially in the Tourist destination Rogla-Pohorje, private tours across the entire country are my specialties.

My passion are natural and cultural heritage, therefore I am an active member of Interpret Europe whit certificates Interpretive Guide and Interpretive Writer.

hanieh bagherzadeh

Day 1 / 4th March
  • Tourist Guide since 2011
  • WFTGA International Trainer
  • Interactive Designer; loves to improve the quality of interactions in different activities
  • Awarded among the Top Tourist Guides of Tehran Tourist Guide Association (TTGA) on 2019
  • Co-founder of Start-up “Tourism2.0” (Tto) aiming for organizing creative & simple visual tours during the pandemic
  • Believes in the magic of storytelling and Interested in using this old tradition in the new forms of visual and virtual tours

ben gollan

Day 3 / 6th March

Ben Gollan a.k.a ‘A Man & His Sandwich’ is an Australian, a ‘reformed lawyer’, and a licensed New York City tour guide who is on a quest to find the world’s best sandwich. Ben was part of the pioneer cohort of Airbnb experience hosts in NYC, and in 2017 started his own food and drink tour company. Ben currently operates multiple culinary experiences in New York – three walking tours plus an online sandwich cooking class – and has hosted over 7500+ guests to date, with 1100+ 5 star reviews.