Kenya has been elected to the highest decision making body of the United Nation World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Executive Council. The announcement was confirmed at the 21st UNWTO General Assembly, which is being held in Medellin, Colombia Kenya’s appointment provides a significant endorsement to the country’s tourism sector as it means that Kenya will now, for the next two years, have a leading role on the UN affiliate body responsible for the coordination of global tourism issues and programmes. The Executive Council that Kenya has been appointed to is the governing body that brings together 154 member countries into a single global tourism organisation and sets and drives the agenda for the global tourism sector.
The Secretary General of the UNWTO, Dr Taleb Rifai has visited Kenya twice this year and has been very clear in his support and endorsement of the country as leading global tourist destination. During one of his recent visits Dr Rifai congratulated Kenya for diversifying its tourism offer by saying: “What brings tourists to Kenya is its irresistible tourism offers. Most visitors who taste Kenyan products will always yearn to come back.”
After Kenya’s nomination was confirmed, the country’s Cabinet Secretary for East Africa, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie, said: “We are privileged to be accorded the opportunity to represent Kenya, East Africa and the African continent on the council. The East African Community (EAC) is one of the fastest growing regional economic blocks and is also endowed with some of the most remarkable tourist attractions to be found anywhere in the world.”
Kenya and the other member states of the East Africa Community (EAC) have been actively looking at ways they can collaborate to support and drive tourism to the region. Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda recently introduced a single visa solution that reduces the cost of visiting to just $100 and allows multiple entries. During the recent UNWTO meeting in Mombasa, Phyllis Kandie announced plans to build on the single visa with a new EAC marketing board, which will market the region as a single destination.
Hon Kandie has also recently supported a proposal for setting up an Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme that will aid member states to develop their tourism sector leading to wealth and job creation: “Globally the tourism sector has become a foundation for economic growth, source for foreign exchange, job and wealth creation, as well as medium for human interaction” she concluded.
The Cabinet Secretary, who will participate in several panel discussions during the conference in Colombia, has invited the delegates at the Assembly to attend the forthcoming Africa Travel Association congress from the 9 to 14 November, later this year at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya.