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Run for the UNWTO Secretary General post

Run for the UNWTO Secretary General post

The Zimbabwe Herald summed up an evaluation of the current run for the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General post.

More and more candidates are getting into the picture and are heading to FITUR this week to launch the competition for the highest post in tourism.

Not all candidates have laid out their plans yet, and some have not mentioned their educational and practical qualifications, but the run up for this position is definitely becoming interesting.

As quoted from The Herald Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Dr. Walter Mzembi, will fight it out with Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili of Georgia, Mr. Marcio Favilla Lucca de Paula of Brazil, Mrs. Gloria Guevara of Mexico, Mr. Alain St.Ange of Seychelles, and Mr. Lahcen Haddad of Morocco.

Dr. Mzembi launched his campaign last year with emphatic endorsements from SADC and the African Union and has been a lone figure in the race while running the campaign of a global pedestal, but with the countdown starting, Dr. Mzembi faces the biggest challenge from Mr. Zurab Marcio Favilla Lucca de Paula, the current UNWTO Executive Director for Operational Programs and Institutional Relations and second-in-charge of UNWTO.

Marcio represents institutional knowledge which he can manipulate in his favor and has been running the organization for more than half a year after outgoing Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai inexplicably stood down for him about a year before the election.

Analysts say Dr. Rifai, an accomplished diplomate and former Minister of Finance of Jordan, stood down to give his Deputy, Marcio, a head start advantage.

Dr. Mzembi, however, is not a novice to have been in the UNWTO Executive Council since 2010 and being the Chair of the UNWTO African Commission for 2 terms.

The other candidates are Georgian Ambassador to Madrid, Mr. Pololikashvili, and Mrs. Gloria Guevara, a tourism guru from Mexico who is Vice President for Customer Solutions and Vendor Management in the Information Office in the Sabre headquarters in Southlake, Texas.

Then there is Mr. Alain St.Ange of Seychelles, who resigned from his job as Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marineon December 28 of last year to concentrate on the UNWTO campaign.

Morocco’s Minister of Tourism, Mr. Lahcen Haddad, has also thrown his name into the hat.

There is going to be excitement in Madrid, Spain, on January 19 when Dr. Mzembi and Mr. Macio Paula hold campaign dinners running concurrently at 7:00 pm to attract audiences at FITUR, the Spanish international tourism extravaganza.

This is an apparent show of power, and it will be interesting to note which dignitaries will attend which function. It is going to be even more interesting to see which function outgoing UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai will attend, given that 2 days ago, he attended the Mexican candidate’s campaign dinner.

Dr. Mzembi will be at the prestigious Torre de Cristal in the Four Towers central business district of downtown Madrid.

For Dr. Mzembi, the dynamics of the election for the tourism top job have changed with Seychelles and Morocco turning up to be his spoilers, as he has been running as the sole African candidate after he was endorsed by the African Union Heads of State and Government as Africa’s candidate for the job.

Seychelles is in breach of African Union (AU) statutes for reasons known to itself, while Morocco can be forgiven since it is not a member of the African Union, although of late it has been making maneuvers to join the African family.

There is, however, a wide belief that it is now time for Africa, as no African has held the UNWTO Secretary General’s post since the inception of the organization in 1975. These are the people who have held the post:

France – Robert Lonati, 1975-1985
Austria – Willibald Pahr, 1986-1989
Mexico – Antonio Enriquez Savignac, 1990-1996
France – Francesco Frangialli, 1997-2009
Jordan – Taleb Rifai, 2010-present

As the campaign reaches fever pitch for the May 11 and 12, 2017 UNWTO SG poll, there is no doubt some will fall by the wayside and that not only one winner will emerge.

PHOTO: Dr. Walter Mzembi

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