With tourism unity comes strength: Navigating the United Nations World Tourism Organization

210

In an era of global turbulence and troubled times, with people looking for stability, unity, and responsible solutions, the role of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is more critical than ever before. With the upcoming UNWTO general election of a new Secretary General, seven candidates have been nominated to build on the considerable successes of outgoing Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai.

The 2016 US election results are still reverberating globally, regardless where in the world one resides. One interesting lesson learned from the recent US Presidential election race is assuming an outcome before the votes are counted is not prudent. A very different and perhaps more thoughtful election is about to take place in Madrid, Spain.


From the Republic of Korea, Ambassador Dho Young-Shim, with a remarkable career in tourism, is a candidate with integrity, perspective, and balance to provide new leadership of the UNWTO in uncertain times.

Dho Young-Shim is endorsed by the Republic of Korea, a country that vigilantly safeguards and values ethics, integrity, and honesty, especially at the highest levels of government, as it has been clearly demonstrated with the recent impeachment of President Park.

Dho Young-Shim, with an impeccable and lengthy track record of championing and implementing authentic sustainable tourism, is receiving support from diverse regions of the world. As a side note, since its inception, UNWTO has never elected an Asian representative or female to the helm of the organization.


To move beyond standard candidate campaigning rhetoric, Dho Young-Shim outlined why she wants to navigate the UNWTO through challenging, if not choppy, global waters.

“I grew up in a country that wasn’t yet developed as it is today. I worked for every opportunity to become a better person, to learn, to earn an education, and to contribute to my country’s development and growth. These are hopes common to people in all parts of the world. I have enormous compassion for anyone who struggles to put food on their table or to get an education. Through the power of tourism, we can authentically help people live better lives. Sustainable tourism is not a buzzword, it is a very real duty. I have made it my life’s work due to my humble background. I have been there. I want to bring UNWTO to new heights, building on the legacy received,” noted Dho Young-Shim.

Dho Young-Shim has nominated Spanish national, Carlos Vogeler, as her running partner. Both Carlos Vogeler and Dho Young-Shim have extensive experience working with the UNWTO. Vogeler is a current Executive Director with more than three decades in the global tourism sector. Combined, they bring extraordinary depth of skills and understanding within an industry and to a world that needs inclusive, cohesive leadership.

In a recent paper, UNWTO provided an overview of the primary responsibilities of the Secretary General position, emphasizing the importance of increasing membership from tourism destinations not currently participating in the UNWTO. These countries include the USA, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, and other major tourism destinations.

“I firmly believe there is great strength in unity. UNWTO’s core foundation embodies unity through tourism. There is also a duty of responsibility when tourism is a major economic driver within a country. Bringing more nations into the UNWTO, uniting together, we can make very real, measurable differences globally,” said Dho Young-Shim.

Voting for the new Secretary General of the UNWTO will take place in Madrid on May 11, 2017, with seven candidates on the ballot. Handing the reins over to a new Secretary General is a large responsibility in the capable hands of voting members of UNWTO. It is reasonable to believe the voting members will read between the lines of candidate campaign trail soundbites and maneuvers in the press, while jockeying for the highly sought-after position. The global tourism industry as a whole requires a thoughtful election to take place next month. Turning away from narratives that do not authentically behoove global tourism interests, while embracing fresh perspectives that will bring people together for the greater good is vital for the stability of tourism in turbulent times.

“We need more genuine leadership in the world, not divisiveness. The power of tourism is enormous. Uniting together we can bring about change to this planet of ours, all while fully supporting stakeholders. With unity comes strength,” said Dho Young-Shim.