Kenya Chosen for UN Tourism Executive Council
Kenya has been elected to join the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) executive council – the highest body in global tourism.
Kenya’s selection was confirmed at the 21st UNWTO General Assembly, which is currently taking place in the Columbian city of Medallin, and the East African country will now sit with the executive council for the following two years.
Supporting challenges to tourism in Kenya
The UN body regularly offers support to countries facing challenges to tourism – including security, health and natural disasters – and Kenya has been a major beneficiary in recent years.
UNWO Secretary General Taleb Rifai has visited Kenya twice this year to help address issues of insecurity in the East African country. Last month the UN official endorsed Kenya as a safe tourism destination after the number of visitors fell by 25 percent.
A spate of militant attacks in recent years has prompted travel warnings from the UK, United States and Australia to name a few. More than 400 people have been killed by Al-Shabaab militants in the last two years, but Rifai was keen to point out that unrest is far from unique to Kenya.
Confidence in the Kenyan destination
“I am confident of the Kenyan destination,” he said last month. “I can even bring my family here tomorrow. Terrorism is not a Kenyan challenge, but a worldwide issue.”
The UNWTO representative pointed to attacks in France, the US and Thailand in recent years to put Kenya’s security in a broader context – something the country’s election will reinforce.
Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie said it is a privilege for Kenya to represent the East African region and African continent at the council.
“The East African Community is one of the fastest growing regional economic blocks in the world,” she said. “It is also endowed with some of the most remarkable tourist attractions to be found anywhere in the globe.”
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates a thriving tourism industry can boost GDP by 10%, creating jobs and boosting experts while raising the global profile of a nation.