Nicolaas Willem Visser

Secretary of the Board of Trustees

At a relatively young age, Nico Visser had a career test. The outcome was that he should work either in field of tourism or in nature conservation. Five decades ago, the psychologist probably had no idea how superb his advice was: Nico’s career would turn out into a perfect combination of the two fields.

After studying Public Law and Ecology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, Nico worked for nature conservation organizations (WWF/IUCN/IEEP/SNM), amongst many things contributing to a new nature conservation law for Indonesia and to a better trans frontier environmental relationship between the Netherlands and neighboring Belgium.

From there, he joined the Ministry for Public Health and Environment to become the Dutch liaison for the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and its various conventions. 

After moving to the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries, Nico became their First “green” Agricultural Counsellor working in East Africa, based at the Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. It was here, in the years 1989-1994, that the connection between tourism and nature, and the environment at large, became an apparent part of his work portfolio.

In his next position as Director for the Environment and Nature for the Government of the Netherlands Antilles, based in Willemstad, Curaçao, the relation between tourism and the environment continued to play a major role in his work.

The combination of tourism and the environment became leading in his work, when Nico joined TUI Nederland in 1997 as their first environmental manager, leading the organization to value the essential relationship between tourism and the environment.

In 1999 Nico was appointed (part time) Professor in Sustainable Tourism Development at both the University of Applied Sciences in Tourism (NHTV) in Breda, the Netherlands and at the Université de Savoie in Chambéry, France, a position which he held until 2015.

After almost 6 years with TUI Nederland, his career continued at the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, where he was appointed as Counsellor for Agriculture and Nature in Southern Africa in 2006. Based at the Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, Nico worked for six years in the Southern African region – amongst other green themes – on the balance between tourism and the natural environment.

After completing his four-year term as Counsellor for Agriculture and Nature in Northern Africa, based at the Netherlands Embassy in Rabat, Morocco, Nico retired as ‘Green Diplomat’ from the civil service 2018.

Currently, he is the appointed Chairman of the Fisheries Committee of the Dutch Caribbean BES Islands (Saba, Sint Eustatius, Bonaire) and holds the honorary position of Co-Patron of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.

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