UNWTO General Assembly: Summarized by Alain St. Ange from the Seychelles

UNWTO General Assembly: Summarized by Alain St. Ange from the Seychelles
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”Change, when it is necessary for the benefit of your country, and change for the betterment of the People. Stagnation is often the result of the same old record playing for much too long.

Following the important UNWTO 22nd General Assembly (11 – 16 September) that just ended in Chengdu in China. UNWTO has a new Secretary General elect in the name of Zurab Pololikashvili of Georgia. Following his election by the 105th UNWTO Executive Council earlier this year (12th May) in Madrid Spain, the Organisation’s General Assembly has confirmed the election of Mr Pololikashvili.

Dr Taleb Rifai congratulates Zurab Pololikashvili
The World of Tourism needs to move ahead and unite behind the new Secretary General of the UNWTO who will be assuming office on the 1st January 2018. The Saint Ange Tourism Report takes this opportunity to wish Zurab Pololikashvili of Georgia success in his new position.

This 22nd UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu was also the opportunity to publicly show the respect and admiration by the world of tourism for Dr Taleb Rifai, the outgoing Secretary General of the Organisation. After his skilful, diplomatic and human style manoeuvring at the confirmation procedures for his replacement, he was given a standing ovation with cheering and clapping. Dr Rifai could not hold back his emotions and shed a tear.

A Tweet by Anita Mendiratta of CNN Task said it all:- “Global leaders at @UNWTO General Assembly in standing ovation to salute outgoing SecGen Dr Rifai for his invaluable 8yrs of leadership.”

Dr Taleb Rifai receives an overwhelming standing ovation
Congratulations also to Minister Najib Balala, the Tourism Minister of Kenya who was elected the new Head of CAF (Commission for Africa). Africa has made a good choice. It is always important when electing people to such positions to look at the country to see if they are a benchmark or not for the tourism industry. The Minister of Tourism for Kenya will now lead CAF for the new term ending 2019.
Ministers Najib Balala of Kenya, Lai Mohammed of Nigeria and Jose da Silva Goncalves of Cabo Verde
The two African Vice Presidents of the 2017 UNWTO General Assembly were Minister Lai Mohammed of Nigeria and Minister Jose da Silva Gonzalves of Cabo Verde. Both did Africa proud. Seychelles has also proudly retained its seat in the UNWTO Executive Council for a further two years. The Minister of Argentina was duly elected Chairman of the Executive Council, and the Ministers of Zambia and India as the two Vice Chairmen. Minister Maurice Loustau-Lalanne accompanied by his PS Anne Lafortune, Seychelles Ambassador to China Vivienne Fock-Tave, Jean Luc Lai-Lam, Seychelles Tourism Board’s Manager for China and Rachel Shen also of the island’s Embassy in China attended the UNWTO General Assembly.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne and his delegation at the General Assembly
We also take this opportunity to officially congratulate Dr. Taleb Rifai, the outgoing Secretary General of the UNWTO for a job well done. His two consecutive terms of office clearly display his successes through his personal drive that was aimed at uniting the world of tourism. We also wish Dr Rifai and Mrs Nisrine Rifai and their family good health and continued happiness.

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The challenges for the tourism industry will not be getting any easier. The need to regroup to deliver a consolidated tourism industry is today more important than ever. This is why we are reporting today on the Cleverdis Group with their Hotel & Tourism Magazine. Gerard Lefebvre, the President & CEO of the group was also in Chengdu and we had the opportunity to discuss tourism trade fairs and trends coupled with existing opportunities. They are the producers of most of the official publications for the important tourism trade fairs and their opinion matters.

BRAND AFRICA was also a topic discussed on the sidelines of the UNWTO General Assembly. Many of the Tourism Ministers or Country Representatives discussed the drive by PMAESA, the (Ports Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa) and their “Cruise Africa” drive. From North to South, from East to West, African States who feel they have facilities and the potential to receive Cruise Ships or to develop cruising in rivers, waterways and lakes are today ready to move together as one. I was personally able, as a Consultant contracted by PMAESA to open discussions with Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, DRC, Morocco, Algeria and Cote D’Ivoire to name but a few. All are welcoming the work being done to give a needed push to Cruising in Africa, and this inclusive of the registration of the “Cruise Africa” name that has already been effected. But as Africa looks at it narrative, it is important that Tourism for All is echoed with respect as the principle guiding Africa. President Nelson Mandela of South Africa coined the Rainbow Nation tagline for South Africa showing how proud he was of the diversity that makes South Africa strong. May this vision that goes beyond colour of the skin, of religion, of political affiliation, of gender and of disabilities among others, remain the mission of Africa and its Brand Africa.

Author: Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.

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