Kenya Elected to the UN World Tourism Organization Executive Council

Kenya has been elected to the UN tourism agency, the highest global body in the sector.

It will now sit in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) executive council, which coordinates tourism issues and programmes worldwide, for two years.

Kenya's nomination was confirmed at the organisation's ongoing general assembly in Medellin, Colombia.

The UN body lends its support to countries facing challenges related to tourism matters.

Kenya has been a major beneficiary. UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai visited Kenya twice this year to offer support as the sector suffered due to insecurity.

The agency has also assisted in the development of a crisis management handbook, which will be shared among the players across the globe.

Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie said Kenya was privileged to represent East Africa and the African continent at the council.

"The East African Community is one of the fastest growing regional economic blocs in the world. It is also endowed with some of the most remarkable tourist attractions to be found anywhere in the globe," Mrs Kandie said.

Already, the region has launched a single tourist visa and the EAC is working towards a joint marketing board to package the region as a single destination.

The Cabinet secretary also supported the setting up of the official development assistance programme to aid member states to develop their tourism sectors.

"Globally, the tourism sector has become a foundation for economic growth and a source for foreign exchange, job and wealth creation as well as medium for human interaction," she said.

The agenda for discussion includes the UNWTO forum on talent, development tourism, investing in youth, sustainability, air transport development, and competitiveness.

Mrs Kandie, who is accompanied by Kenyan Ambassador to Spain Bramwel Kisuya, Kenya Tourism Board managing director Muriithi Ndegwa, Kenya Utalii College principal Kenneth Ombongi and Tourism Secretary Anne Kinyua, will also participate in several panel discussions. She invited the delegates at the assembly to the upcoming Africa Travel Association congress, which is to be held in Nairobi from November 9 to 14.

The assembly is the governing organ of the UNWTO that brings together 154 countries and sets the agenda for the global tourism sector.

Tourism's ability to foster inclusive development and social transformation will be the focus during this 21st session of the general assembly.

The assembly takes places at a most dynamic time for the tourism sector. With five consecutive years of robust growth, tourism has been a major contributor to the economic recovery in many parts of the world, generating foreign earnings, employment and investment.