UNWTO Has 7 Candidates Who Want to Be the Next Leader of Global Tourism

Credit: skift.com

Skift

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, pictured here at his office in Madrid, finishes his term at the end of this year when his successor will take the reigns. Skift



Skift Take: There are some well-qualified insiders and total outsiders with little experience in tourism among the candidates for the new UNWTO Secretary-General. Whoever is nominated and elected later this year will need to work more closely with governments at the national and local level to show them why tourism matters.

— Dan Peltier

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), like its parent the United Nations, is mostly an advisory body rather than an enforcer of specific laws related to tourism.


But the UNWTO still exerts heavy influence on destination marketers and tourism organizations around the world and its Secretary-General dictates guidance for the future of global tourism in dozens of countries such as the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism For Development this year.


The UNWTO’s current Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai of Jordan, has served in the position since January 2010 and is stepping down at the end of this year. The organization’s 33-nation executive board will choose a nominee in May to be voted on by its General Assembly later this year to serve as Secretary-General for the 2018 to 2021 term.


Seven eligible applications were received and we provide each candidate’s career history below.


As part of the United Nations, the UNWTO supports many of the United Nation’s programs and is one of the largest global tourism organizations that advises member states on how to develop and implement tourism policies. The organization’s mission is to, “drive economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offer leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide,” according to its website.


UNWTO’s membership includes 157 countries, six associate members and 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.


Among the challenges facing the next Secretary-General is growing UNWTO membership. The U.S. is notably not a member because of disagreements in policy and membership costs and 35 other countries such as the UK, Ireland, the U.A.E. and Sweden are also non-members.


Skift has interviewed Rifai twice in the past two years, most recently in July 2016 at UNWTO’s headquarters in Madrid. Rifai’s beliefs in travel as a human right and the strength of a country’s political will to welcome tourists stood out to us during our conversation last year and have in large part defined his tenure as Secretary-General.


Rifai told us last July that despite security challenges facing many destinations he’s leaving office optimistic about the future of global tourism. “In a nutshell, I’m not worried about the travel and tourism industry,” he said. “I’m concerned about the lives of people and security of people, of course. We need to be concerned about the security of travel. We have to put it at the heart of our objective. Security doesn’t mean we don’t travel. Do not travel or reduced travel is not an answer, it’s not an option.”


Rifai’s successor will inherit a growing travel industry part of a different world compared to when the industry had bottomed out at height of the global recession in 2009 and 2010 when Rifai took office. Albeit, the rise of populism in the U.S. and Europe, for example, is already projected to impact tourist arrivals in some destinations.


7 Biographies


>>Márcio Favilla, Brazil: Favilla already holds a post at the UNWTO — Executive Director for Operational Programs and Institutional Relations since 2014 — and was previously UNWTO’s Executive Director for Competitiveness, External Relations and Partnerships from 2010 to 2013. He’s been involved with the UNWTO and other Brazilian and global tourism organizations for the past 20 years and was Head of the Brazilian delegation to all UNWTO General Assembly and Executive Council sessions from 2003 to 2006 and Chairman of the UNWTO Commission for the Americas in 2006. Favilla played a role in establishing Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism while he was Vice Minister of Tourism from 2003 to 2007. He also developed and implemented Brazil’s first national tourism plan. A Brazilian national, Favilla speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.


In addition to continuing work on the UNWTO’s current priorities such as sustainability, Favilla has said he wants to bring in more countries that aren’t members of the organization.


>>Vahan Martirosyan, Armenia: Martirosyan is one of the newest candidates to the travel industry. He was appointed as Armenia’s Minister of Transport and Communications in September 2016 and in October had a title change to Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies. Martirosyan spent more than 30 years working in electrical engineering posts in Armenia, serving in various board positions of CJSC, one of the country’s largest electrical utility companies, for the past 16 years.


>>Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe: Mzembi is currently the Minister of Tourism for Zimbabwe, a position he’s held since 2009. He’s led efforts for long-term tourism plans for both Zimbabwe and the African Union, including Zimbabwe’s goal of attracting five million arrivals $5 billion in revenue by 2020. He is also the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa Chairperson.


>>Zurab Pololikashvili, Georgia: Pololikashvili is the Ambassador of Georgia to Spain and currently the permanent representative of Georgia to the UNWTO. He has said that one of his goals, if elected, is that the UNWTO become more approachable and helpful to smaller destinations rather than only country or regional destination marketing organizations.


>>Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente, Colombia: Sanclemente is the Ambassador of Colombia to Austria. He also held ambassadorships to Korea, the Philippines and Mongolia from 2011 to 2014. He’s had various leadership positions in Colombian tourism organizations during the past 20 years and much of his career has focused on sustainability.


>>Alain St. Ange, Seychelles: St. Ange is a Seychelles politician who has been the country’s Minister of Tourism and Culture since 2012. He also served as Director of Marketing of Seychelles in 2009 and in 2010 was promoted to CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. He has authored or co-authored nearly a dozen political history books about Seychelles and has worked in many hotels and restaurants in Seychelles, the Channel Islands and Australia.


>>Dho Young-shim, South Korea: Dho Young-shim currently serves as the Chairperson of the UNWTO’s Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation. From 1999 to 2003 she was Vice-Chair and Chair of Organizing Committee for Visit Korea Year and has spearheaded the Thank You Small Library project of the UNWTO ST-EP Foundation since 2007 which has established more than 80 libraries in developing countries.


Top Stories

London Signs Tourism Agreement With Paris While the UK Prepares for Brexit

The timing of this announcement – in the same week that the UK formally starts the Brexit process – shows that the Mayor of London is keen to show the city is still very much willing to work with Europe. -Patrick Whyte
  • 2 days ago
  • 22

Virgin Atlantic Heading Toward Loss Thanks to Brexit and Low-Cost Competition

Looks like it could be a tough couple of years for Virgin Atlantic. Even if the Brexit vote hadn't happened the airline would have still faced a squeeze from the increased level of competition on its transatlantic routes. -Patrick Whyte
  • 2 days ago
  • 14

Carnival Expects a Strong Year Despite Tensions in Asia

Carnival Corp. is seeing strong demand and a willingness to pay more in its key markets. That's good news for the company and the industry in general, but China will warrant close attention if the dispute with Korea is not resolved quickly. -Hannah Sampson
  • 2 days ago
  • 13

Hawaii Tries a Light Touch for New Vacation Rental Regulations

We've yet to see a market where the carrot approach works better than the stick, and we're not optimistic about Hawaii’s hopes either. -Jason Clampet
  • 4 days ago
  • 9

North Korean Airline Begins New Service to China

Given the current geopolitical climate, we wonder how in demand this route will be. -Deanna Ting
  • 2 days ago
  • 9
farawayyachtingcharters - Easy Branches
botoxfillerveintheraphyinphuket - Easy Branches

Latest in Travel

Thomas Cook Abandons Practice of Separating Hotel Guest by Nationality

For most people, the idea of separating travelers based on nationality seems both old fashioned and a little odd. Forcing Brits to mingle with other nationalities (and vice versa) might do wonders for European integration. Although given the countdown to Brexit has already begun, it's probably a little late in the day. -Patrick Whyte
  • 50 minutes ago

Gourmet meals and a butler, coming soon to a theatre near you

Mixed Melanchony: Watermelon, cantaloupe, cherry tomato and black grapes tossed with balsamico chaat vinaigrette  For a lot of us, a movie without the standard popcorn and cola is unthinkable. But what if the dishes on offer were mac and cheese, burrito and tomato parmesan penne? We’d go with the latter. Curated by celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani, […] The post Gourmet meals and a butler, coming soon to a theatre near you appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 3 hours ago

A Preview of Southwest’s New Security Checkpoint Opening Monday in Los Angeles

Anyone who has flown Southwest through Terminal 1 in Los Angeles over the last couple of years knows that it’s ... Read More
  • 3 hours ago

System Professional and Vogue India decode your hair

Vogue India’s Fashion Director, Anaita Shroff Adajania, and her sister – YouTube star, Scherezade Shroff, give us #SisterGoals in more ways than one. Recently, the duo launched System Professional’s Energycode Mapping service with Vogue India at Asilo, The St Regis, Mumbai. What’s more: they gave the service a test run and shared their childhood hair […] The post System Professional and Vogue India decode your hair appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 4 hours ago

How to wear retro florals without looking like wallpaper

Spring/Summer 2017 was over-flowing with retro wallpaper blooms inspired by Seventies interiors – think curtains, table cloths and sun loungers. Beautiful bouquets crowded the catwalks in Chloé, Michael Kors and Prada in chestnut and turquoise hues, whilst Miu Miu radiated rainbow colours. Heat up your wardrobe this summer with Vogue’s top 10 floral picks for […] The post How to wear retro florals without looking like wallpaper appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 4 hours ago

Our J.W. Anderson for Uniqlo wish list

As J.W. Anderson is named the latest Uniqlo collaborator – following in the footsteps of fellow catwalk labels Lemaire and Jil Sander, and fashion names including Carine Roitfeld and Inès de la Fressange – our mind has already begun to draw up a virtual shopping list. Will there be a version of his Pierce bag, […] The post Our J.W. Anderson for Uniqlo wish list appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 5 hours ago

These celebrities will inspire you to go for that haircut

We get it, you love your long hair. There’s this emotional connect that most of us have with being able to run our fingers through our hair or playing with them aimlessly, and the idea of that going away can be a little daunting. However, not only is a fresh cut healthy for your hair, […] The post These celebrities will inspire you to go for that haircut appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 7 hours ago

Find a summer eyeshadow palette for every budget in our edit

Besides your clothing choices, your make-up should also get an update with the changing season. Summer calls for as much of nude with hints of shimmer as it does pops of colour. These eyeshadow palettes (there’s one for every budget) allow you to create fresh spring looks across the board—whether you’re looking for a basic […] The post Find a summer eyeshadow palette for every budget in our edit appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 8 hours ago

10 products that promise the shiniest hair of your life  

If you ever got face time with the hair gods, what would be your number one request? Longer hair? Maybe. No frizz? Yes please. Shiny hair? Yep, that would be all of us! It’s the first thing you notice in shampoo commercials and the best thing about blowouts. When it comes to gorgeous hair, shine […] The post 10 products that promise the shiniest hair of your life   appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 8 hours ago

Alaska Air Won’t Have Flatbeds But Will Reward Frequent Flyers With Free Upgrades

Alaska's frequent flyers should love this decision. No, they won't get flatbed business class seats to New York, but they'll keep plentiful free upgrades. For most road warriors, that's a big deal. -Brian Sumers
  • 8 hours ago

The New Wave of Booking Tech That’s Disrupting How Airlines Sell Tickets

Airlines are using new channels, such as Facebook chat and other airlines' websites, to sell their seats and other products. Some are turning to startups for help, rather than rely only on establishment vendors. -Sean O'Neill
  • 8 hours ago

Oasis CEO: Expect More Consolidation, Disruption From Alternative Accommodations

Will Oasis and other alternative accommodations players' arguably steadier, slower, and more curated approaches to scale pay off in the long term? Or will the speed and scale of bigger players like Airbnb win out in the end? -Deanna Ting
  • 9 hours ago