14 February 2017

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. This is why the May elections for Secretary General are extremely important for the UNWTO. We need a new, dynamic, capable, inspirational leader in the world of tourism who will continue the amazing work of Taleb Rifai, implement changes where necessary, welcome more members from all over the globe and secure sustainable development.

If I am elected as Secretary General, I will aim to see the continuation of the Taleb Rifai era by inviting him to have an Emeritus status at the UNWTO. This would ensure we have an eye from the past as we build the future.

Next, I intend to work closely with WTO Member States, associates, and affiliate members as well as the WTTC, ICAO and IMO to gain a better understanding of their individual needs. In doing so, the regions of the tourism world will be able to work in the spirit of unity to create strength.

Third, I will work with an open door policy for each Member State, bringing the needed support to help them consolidate their tourism industry and grow it. In parallel with this, I would invite non-member countries to join the tourism family.

Furthermore, I will work with governments to protect their safety label as this is the most sought after selling point of any tourism destination. Similarly, I will endeavour to assist Member States when they have been 'Black Listed' following a crisis. This will be accomplished by gaining a mandate to clear a country and readmit them as a welcoming holiday destination when normality is restored.

I am also committed to collaborating with press bodies and governments through organisations like UNEP and UNESCO to protect what our world has been blessed with for the long term. I will make certain that the UNWTO leads the way setting standards involving social, economic, cultural and environmental issues. Moreover, I will pursue the best practices to mitigate fallouts regarding poverty alleviation, job creation, cultural enrichment, peace building and social and economic equity.

Finally, I will work to ensure that air travel does not become overburdened with security. This involves working with IMO, ICAO, airline companies and cruise ship companies through WTTC and PATA to consolidate travel and holidays in all its aspects.

Any opinions expressed here are the author’s own.