BY MATHIAS RINGA
Players in the Travel and Tourism industry have congratulated Kenya’s Tourism cabinet secretary Najib Balala for being elected to chair the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) executive council.
Mr Balala was elected on Friday, during the 23rd UNWTO general assembly, which took place in St Petersburg, Russia.
In Kenya, Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani congratulated Mr Balala for being elected to chair the UNWTO executive council.
Mr Kamani said: “The outstanding achievement will not only place Africa on the world map, but is also a true testament that Kenya is a significant tourism hub.
“I am privileged to work closely with Mr Balala in the Kenya Coast Working Group and the Private Sector Taskforce, and I am confident that he will do justice to his new role, and as always will deliver beyond expectations.”
According to the UNWTO, the Executive Council consists of members elected by the Assembly in the proportion of one member for every five full members.
This is in accordance with the rules of procedure laid down by the Assembly with a view to achieving fair and equitable geographical distribution.
On the African continent, the African Tourism Board chairperson Cuthbert Ncube said Mr Balala’s election to chair the UNWTO executive council was an important achievement not only for him, but for Africa and its vibrant travel and tourism industry.
“It shows the importance and richness of Africa as a driver in the global travel and tourism industry. We’re looking forward to working with Kenya as an important leader in improving our communities through sustainable tourism.”
Meanwhile, Morocco has been officially chosen as the host of the 24th Session of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to be held in 2021.
At the conclusion of the 23rd General Assembly in St Petersburg, Member States of the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, were asked to choose between Morocco, Kenya and the Philippines.
All three Member States had presented their candidatures over the preceding days, highlighting their commitment to accessibility and sustainability and for using tourism as a driver for job creation and economic growth for all.
The 24th Session of the General Assembly will be held in the city of Marrakesh in 2021, with the exact dates to be confirmed.
UNWTO general-secretary Zurab Pololikashvili said: “I offer my warmest congratulations to Morocco.
“They are a long-standing ally of UNWTO and at this General Assembly they clearly demonstrated how the Kingdom has embraced tourism as a driver of positive change over the past few decades.
“Morocco also showed it has the infrastructure and the commitment necessary to host the most important high-level even for the global tourism sector.
“At the same time, I thank both Kenya and the Philippines for their candidatures. Both presented exceptionally strong cases.”