Africa may head UN Tourism Organisation

Solomon Chung, Ethiopia

Africa must ensure that it clinches the leadership position of the World highest Tourism organisation and the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed stated this in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the side lines of the 59th Meeting of UNWTO Commission for Africa and High Level Meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism to Africa.

The Minister, who is leading the Nigerian delegation, was speaking ahead of the upcoming election of the global body in May, 2017.

“The UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, a Jordanian will be leaving after a very successful two terms and we all believe that it is the turn of Africa to occupy this post.”

“Of course, intensive lobbying has been going on, but the most important thing for us is to ensure that we use all available opportunity to ensure we produce the next Secretary General. There are candidates from Africa, Europe and Brazil, but for us who are ministers from Africa, we want to ensure that an African emerged as the next Secretary General of UNTWO,’’ he said.

Chinese Outbound Tourism
The Minister, who also commented on the Chinese outbound high level meeting, said Nigeria was open to what the Chinese intend to propose on Wednesday during the high-level meeting.

“The second leg of the meeting, a High Level Meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism to Africa will strengthen cultural relation between China and African countries, Nigeria in particular.” “Nigeria as a country would review the proposal by China to Africa on facilitating cultural exchange and visit of Africans to China and make the most of it.”

The Minister stated that Nigeria used the 58th edition of the conference held in Ivory Coast in 2016 to re-launch the country back to the UNTWO fold and it had proven fruitful thus far.

“After the meeting in Abidjan last year, Nigeria was invited to the headquarters of UNTWO in Madrid, Spain where a session was dedicated exclusively to address Nigeria’s challenges on tourism. It is as a result of the meeting that UNTWO sent experts to Nigeria to review our Tourism Development Plan.”

“We hosted them for five days in December last year and during the meetings the experts met with cross sections of all the major stakeholders in the industry.” “We are already implementing recommendations from the engagements and they are yielding results,’’ he concluded.

The conference which started on April 18 to end April 21 has the theme “2017 As Year of Sustainable Tourism”.

Sammie