STATEMENT OF INTENT AND MANAGEMENT
BUILDING ON THE LEGACY OF MY PREDECESSORS
A. TOURISM IN 2017 ONWARDS
1. Today, tourism is not only important in learning about the world’s cultures, but it is also directly contributing to the economies of so many countries. In so doing, the industry is putting money directly into the pockets of the people in tourism destinations while stimulating economic growth and development.
A side benefit to strong economies is that tourism promotes peace. Statistics show that well over one billion tourists crossed international borders in 2016, and this comes with the fortune that is earned from the tourism industry.
Yet, even while tourism as an industry continues to grow, the time is right for reassessing today’s challenges. However, to better understand the benefits of the tourism industry to each and every Member State, a Full Satellite Accounting program needs to be a top priority with environment and Travel & Tourism accounting brought together. Today, all our public statements must reflect this – adding sustainability with our growth expertise.
Accepting that the tourism industry has made, and continues to make, real achievements in growth, we still have to recognise that there is much work to do in quality and standards. As we look at existing competition, it is evident that the Member States see themselves as complementing each other. It is time to put Sustainability and Climate on an equal par to Promotion and ensure that leading organisations in this field have a high-level engagement with the UNWTO.
2. Over the last couple of years, successes in tourism are constantly being challenged. The industry is resilient, but it is time for the Member States to sit together to look at the challenges we face involving both natural and man-made crises. Mainly, insecurity and the loss of safety labels is a new category of crisis that remains with tourism destinations for longer durations, and the effects drag on with no solution in sight.
Unless we work as one through the UNWTO to make tourism work for all, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) will continue to face difficulties. Therefore, a concerted effort is needed to bring all member countries of the UNWTO together because it is only together that the world can overcome the challenges of this era. Pushing for the citizens of tourism destinations to claim back their tourism industry will help to alleviate poverty. Getting the people on board will see countries work as one to deal with climate change, relook at safety and security, strive for better health, food and energy systems, and address the many other challenges identified. Together as one, countries can consolidate their tourism industry and help it to grow.
3. The way to move ahead through these trying times is to be better prepared for long-term challenges. Fortunately, the United Nations (UN) has its United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as the facilitator for the world of tourism.
Today, the UNWTO is needed to provide leadership and support to its Member States as it works with private sector bodies such as the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Authority (IMO).
With a solid frontline team of public and private bodies working together, we can continue the work already started with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to ensure that our unique assets are protected and marketed through tourism.
B. UNWTO TODAY
4. Since the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO) was launched over 60 years ago as the predecessor for the World Tourism Organization (WTO), which then came into existence in 1974, tourism has moved forward at a remarkably rapid pace. It is, therefore, important that the legacy of our predecessors is safeguarded and built upon.
A needed position in that line is one as ‘Secretary-General Emeritus‘ for Taleb Rifai, the outgoing Secretary General. This position will guarantee Member States that Taleb Rifai can continue to play a part in our WTO and share his expertise and accumulated experiences.
In-house support is also needed to ensure that all States are Member States of the UNWTO. The work to ensure that a major precondition of engagement with countries and with their private and public activities is to invite them to become part of the UNWTO tourism family. Membership of the organisation must become a core element of the new governance.
Nevertheless, it must be recognised that the work over the last two decades has increased membership numbers and expanded the organisation’s services. This has resulted in the organisation’s leadership in the field of tourism to be accepted and acknowledged, which is why the position of ‘Secretary General Emeritus‘ for Taleb Rifai is a necessity.
5. For the last several decades, UNWTO has designated five of its achievements as important, which are listed as follows:
i) The Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) developed in 1999, providing the most important tool for measuring the impact of tourism on national economies.
ii) The Global Code of Ethics in Tourism endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2001, considered as the key document redefining the term tourism and placing its practices on par with all international ethical values and norms.
iii) The STEP initiative launched in 2002, representing the first serious practical attempt to link the impact of tourism to the improvement of the social and economic lives of ordinary people.
iv) The UNWTO becoming a full-fledged specialised agency of the United Nations in 2003, recognising tourism as an integral and essential element in the global development agenda.
v) The most important achievement, however, lies in the fact that the UNWTO has firmly established its international status in the tourism sector. It is acknowledged and looked upon as “The Organization” to provide vision and leadership to the sector.
6. In 2017 and onwards, it is important for the UNWTO to reassess its position and ‘raison d’être‘. The challenges now facing the tourism industry, and thus the UNWTO, are linked to what is happening in the world at large. This is why changes within our organisation are needed to ensure we are better placed to face the needs of the Member States and the tourism industry as a whole.
C. TOURISM MUST SUCCEED
7. The UNWTO must realise that the way forward for the tourism industry also spells out the need for more to be done than is prescribed in the Organization’s Statutes. The first point that needs to be resolved with all stakeholders is the current mission of the UNWTO.
Expectations from the Member States have increased, and the visibility of the work of the Organization is better than ever before. The UNWTO, as the facilitator for the Member States and for the tourism industry, is expected to provide leadership but this has to follow the chosen path of Member States at their National level, Regional level and then as an organisation at a global level. Therefore, it is important for the UNWTO to work through the needs and expectations of its main regions to get a clear understanding of the aspirations and needs of each and every member State.
8. As we focus on these areas, we need to propose a revised agenda for action with clear objectives.
Objective 1: Safety & Security.
Objective 2: Sustainability & Climate.
Objective 3: UNWTO to represent the complete world of tourism.
9. Safety & Security can and will guarantee continued consolidation of the world tourism industry. Still, given that insecurity and tourism do not go together, and that the loss of the safety label is a black mark against tourism destinations, improving Safety & Security is the major challenge we face today. To safeguard the safety labels of Member States, clear objectives for action need to be worked on and agreed to. These include Ministers of Internal Affairs from the Member States, International Organizations responsible for Security, and the Media.
Additionally, the UNWTO has the responsibility to ensure that the necessary guidelines are in place to safeguard against man-made or natural destruction. Often, such events result in the affected Member State being put on a ‘Black List’, which immediately hampers the tourism industry of that country. Member States are also made vulnerable when ‘blacklisted’ by countries that serve as important tourism source markets. The UNWTO needs to be the advisory body to guide such measures and to recommend a country’s removal from the ‘Black List’ as soon as normality is restored.
10. Sustainability & Climate is recognised as key to the continued development of the world tourism industry. No longer just an option, it is the responsibility of each and every Member State to work with the UNWTO to develop short-term policies, acceptable practices and actions that will contribute to long-term development of objectives and goals.
The UNWTO will be the body that ensures stated global and national policies in the tourism sector become part of the global sustainable development agenda as outlined by the MDGs. The UNWTO must take the leadership role in working with the Member States on setting standards and ethical issues on laid out development points, focusing on social, economic, cultural and environmental areas.
Knowing that this cannot happen by itself, the UNWTO needs to be ready to assist and guide in the areas of environmental protection, climate change and biodiversity. It must also be ready to work with the Member States to see how to mitigate fallouts, touching the key stated objectives listed as follows:
- poverty alleviation;
- job creation;
- cultural enrichment;
- peace building and;
- social and economic equity.
11. UNWTO to represent the complete world of tourism is an objective that is needed more so now and in the future than it was in the past. The UNWTO speaks on behalf of the world, and therefore, it needs to have the world as part of its body. Modern challenges are too diverse and important for the Community of Nations not be working together for the long term benefit of tourism as an important industry.
For this reason, membership must become a core element of the new UNWTO in its work to engage with both the private and public sectors. This is why the help of the outgoing Secretary-General is essential and why a position of ‘Secretary-General Emeritus‘ needs to be created. It is impossible for the UNWTO, as an intergovernmental organisation, to contribute meaningfully to any of its objectives without working with and including all stakeholders from the Community of Nations.
12. I am proposing that these three objectives be part of a Mission Statement that is on the table to be endorsed. The work program of the UNWTO will absorb these stated Objectives.
D. PLAN FOR THE SECRETARY GENERAL’S MANDATE
13. As the new Secretary-General of the UNWTO will be preparing a four-year work plan, I am happy to state the points that I feel will need to be addressed. These points will enable the UNWTO to be an Organization for the period 2018–2020.
To face the major challenges confronting the UNWTO and its Member States, I am proposing the following SEVEN-POINT PLAN. Realistically, specific plans and targets will still need to be detailed, but I am convinced that this seven-point plan represents the needs of the tourism industry of today and tomorrow. Thus, we should embrace them in order to allow the tourism industry to work to its full potential.
THE SEVEN-POINT PLAN
I. Working to bring Safety & Security to the Membership
14. Currently, the UNWTO is a respected, sizeable organisation belonging to 155 Member States that are managed by a small Secretariat with a modest budget, when compared with other International Organisations. Over the years, the UNWTO has developed a working partnership between the public and private sectors, which puts it in a good position to facilitate and lead the strategy to safeguard the Safety & Security of its Member States. Furthermore, the relationship that the UNWTO has nurtured between the Secretariat and Member States is one that gives it the respect it needs to call on partners to collaborate and address the Safety & Security Challenge.
15. To succeed with this objective, it is important for the Organization to reaffirm the needed sense of engagement with the Member States. As the new Secretary-General, it will be important for me to introduce a revision in representation for the Member States as well as practices and procedures concerning the way the different organs of the UNWTO meet and operate.
The role of the Secretariat will also be reexamined. With this aim, I would ensure that the Member States have a Regional Office so as to encourage more involvement in the debate and decisions regarding policy issues, work agendas and new initiatives.
16. This involves putting ‘field presence’ in the regions and doing away with the difficulty of engaging Member States in the plans and actions of the Organization. The ‘field presence’ person will report to the Regional Representatives at headquarters. Together, they can interact with the Member States and be in a position to accurately reflect their priorities and concerns. Certainly, the UNWTO has attained recognition as the public sector leader in the tourism sector. That being said, however, there is still a need to accurately relate the Organization’s value and contributions to its Members. The relevance of the UNWTO agenda must also be made clear and evident to alleviate concerns of the Member States.
There is no better way for this to happen than to have UNWTO ‘field presence’ in the Member States. This will ensure that each Member State can if they so wish, see the UNWTO at various stages of development or at strategic planning for their tourism industry. In the context of working to bring safety and security to the membership, the UNWTO must take the leadership role, be relevant to all and ensure that partner organisations and the media join together to plan out the most suitable course of action for the Member States.
17. The UNWTO must appreciate the importance of the media in this challenge, and it is only by engaging with them as partners that they will be able to appreciate the destructive potential of insecurity for the tourism industry.
II. UNWTO to represent the complete World of Tourism
18. The UNWTO now has 155 Member States. It remains an intergovernmental organisation and the facilitator for tourism: the industry that has the ability to put money in the pockets of the people of tourism destinations and keep economies of many a country alive. As a result, membership has grown for the UNWTO, but more needs to be done to bring non-members into the tourism family of the world.
Many important tourism destinations, particularly in Europe, North America and Australasia are still outside the UNWTO. A personalised and innovative approach must be adopted to encourage these countries to join the UNWTO, and at the same time, ensure that it truly represents the entire international tourism community.
19. Visibility and working the open door policy for the Organization is very important today. This will ensure that the UNWTO retains its membership and entices others to join. The UNWTO must also be able to accommodate the different structures of National Tourism Administrations that exist today. A new approach is needed to ensure that countries with a different National Tourism Administration are able to join the UNWTO and see the relevance and value of membership. To achieve this objective, I intend to work with the outgoing Secretary-General in his capacity as ‘Secretary-General Emeritus‘ for a positive one-on-one approach.
III. Seeing the strength for the Member States to be within the UN System and the Global Development Agenda
20. Member States of the UNWTO must be able to see and appreciate the benefits of being part of the UN System. Only in 2003 did the UNWTO become a specialised agency of the UN, and it is the UN Specialized Agency with a wide crosscutting mandate. Yet, the level of integration and cooperation within the UN system is still not enough to impress the Member States. The importance of tourism to the world merits the UNWTO’s rightful place in the Community of Nations. However, the UNWTO will need to embark on a visibility campaign to showcase its importance to the world’s economy and for the Member States to defend the Organization to help propel it to greater heights.
21. Achieving greater integration and involvement with other global and regional partners lies in the UNWTO’s ability to make its case through its media partners in the Member States, with able representation in their Foreign Affairs Departments and with other UN affiliated bodies. It is also vital to convey the importance of tourism and raise awareness of its potential contributions to the global sustainable development agenda.
It must become clear that more effort is needed to link tourism to three major global challenges, which are listed as:
i) Poverty Alleviation.
iii) Climate Change (as well as the global challenges involved in providing for energy, security, cultural and environmental preservation).
The UNWTO must also reexamine its human rights-related programs, particularly those concerning women and children, and tell the world what it is doing to help out with their global challenges. On behalf of the UNWTO, I will work to attain the international status required for it to work in a meaningful partnership with major international and regional organisations.
22. The UNWTO is aware that the UN has attached special importance to its development agenda in Africa. As an African myself, I will ensure that the UNWTO follows this agenda and shows that we are delivering as promised.
In order for the UNWTO to achieve this important global objective, the first step will be to establish a ‘field presence’ in Africa immediately. This will strengthen the UNWTO’s special program for Africa while ensuring that STEP initiatives and projects are followed effectively. On that same line, Small Island States are seen today as vulnerable because of climate change effects. Again, ‘field presence’ in the Small Island States must be discussed to ensure a better understanding and a closer partnership is developed.
IV. Affiliate membership geared towards better engagement with the private sectors
23. The UNWTO must continue to work with the WTTC, PATA, IATA, IMO and other private sector bodies to ensure that the Affiliate Members truly engage the private sector, and Civil Society, at all levels. Among international and intergovernmental organisations, the UNWTO is unique in its inclusion of nongovernmental members as Affiliates. From its beginning, the UNWTO has welcomed non-governmental members, and to this day, Affiliate Members from the private sector continue to enjoy an integral part of the UNWTO structure.
Of course, having Affiliate Members is one thing, and this structure has come a long way, but clarity as to the role of the Affiliate Members within the Organization is needed. Overall, Affiliate Members need to see that their membership has more meaning, and they need to enjoy more representation if they are to effectively perform the role expected by their presence in the UNWTO.
24. Affiliates must continue to become more active as members and debate all issues with their partners in the public sector. Meanwhile, the UNWTO must remain as the platform for this important debate and interaction.
25. I will be introducing a major revision of the role and structure of the Affiliate Members as well as of the practices and procedures that enable them to operate efficiently and meaningfully. This will be done in consultation with the Member States, current Affiliate Members and major partners outside the UNWTO.
V. Sustainability and Climate
26. The UNWTO needs to position sustainability and climate change on an equal par to promotion It also needs to ensure that leading organisations in this field have a high level of engagement with the Organization. It is time to think outside the box and appreciate that tourism for the long term is sustainable tourism. Similarly, climate change is set to bring about undue pressures on tourism development.
Long ago, this approach was simply called conservation, but the world of tourism today has a Sustainable Tourism Label that needs the support of the UNWTO to give it the credibility it requires. The unique nature of the tourism industry, as well as the dynamic character of its private sector, must be utilised to boost long-term tourism development and protect our world by minimising climate change through our actions.
27. The UNWTO can play a bigger part in this area: the more we make it our challenge, the more respect we will have. The private sector of the tourism industry is well involved in this drive, and we now need to ensure that every Member State adheres to saving the industry that keeps economies alive.
VI. Funding & Good Governance
28. The UNWTO remains primarily dependent on the contributions of its Member States to fund its operations, which is why the importance of the Organization must be given greater visibility. The time is now to strengthen our excellent engagement through the UN, the World Bank and related global governance systems. This will ensure that through the UNWTO we have a seat at the top level tables dealing with international financing and that we become the GO TO Agency where funds are flowing for tourism related activity. It may seem a far distant dream, but the importance of tourism will be accepted when we push forward and showcase where we stand for the economies of the world.
29. While we are looking at funding, we also need to take necessary steps to build on the legacy of my predecessors through a small, effective organisation that straddles the UN, private sector and civil society, which will be increasingly geared to the demands of the SDG and climate.
30. For the UNWTO, the time has also arrived to revamp the Secretariat to ensure no ‘Lifetime Tenure’ and to move progressively to Full Gender Equality.
VII. Ease of Travel
29. As recent developments are discouraging travel to long haul as well as short haul destinations by air travel, the time to work with IATO and IMO is now.
30. Due to regulations that keep appearing, it is the tourism industry that suffers first when travel is not seen as a necessity anymore. Alongside the WTTC and PATA, we must team up with Airport Authorities and their Security Departments to work for what can be called “Ease of Travel”. Not only will this benefit tourism as an industry, it will also help to boost air travel.
31. I am honoured to be putting my name forward as a Candidate from the Seychelles for the post of Secretary-General of the UNWTO. As a proactive and practical person with no complexes whatsoever, who is able to live with challenges as per democratic norms, I will introduce changes at the UNWTO based on my knowledge, experience and expertise. I know from spending my long career in tourism that working as a team is key to success, and I will arrive with tourism industry thinking for a tourism intergovernmental organisation.
With my life-long passion for improving tourism for all, I commit myself to this Statement of Intent and Management for the period of my mandate.
January 16, 2017
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