• Speaking during a phone interview on Friday night from Russia, Balala said he is delighted to have been elected to chair this important global council.
• According to UNWTO, the Executive Council consists of members elected by the Assembly in the proportion of one member for every five full members.
Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala was on Friday evening elected to chair the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council.
In the election, which was held during the 111th Session of the 23rd UNWTO General Assembly in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Balala emerged top.
He will be deputised an Italian during the one-year tenure, 2019-2020.
According to 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.
Speaking during a phone interview on Friday night from Russia, Balala said he is delighted to have been elected to chair this important global council.
“This is very important to us because this is the most powerful committee of the organization (UN) that elects the Secretary General and makes the decision on many things of the organization,” said Balala.
He added that “We have developed a ten-point road map for Africa that will deal with issues of branding the African continent and changing the narrative. During my time as the chair, we will be also pushing the for the development of a Tourism Commission in the African Union.”
According to Balala, currently the AU has a Commission on Infrastructure, Peace and Security among others, but tourism, which employs millions of people and is the backbone of many African economies has been neglected.
“The African Union needs to appreciate that tourism is one of the largest economies in Africa and it employs 21 million people, unfortunate, it does not have a commission of its own,” said Balala.
Back in Kenya, tourism stakeholders led by Diani Reef Managing Director Bobby Kamani have praised Balala’s win as an outstanding achievement.
“This is as an outstanding achievement that will not only place Africa on the global map, but it is also a true testament to Kenya as a significant tourism hub,” said Kamani.
Kamani said Coast hoteliers are privileged to work closely with Balala in the Kenya Coast Working Group and Private Sector Taskforce.
“I’m confident that he will do justice to his new role and, as always, will deliver beyond expectations,” said Kamani.
In the continent, the African Tourism Board chairperson, Cuthbert Ncube, said this is an important achievement not only for Balala 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,” said Ncube.