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Tourism Cabinet Secretary Balala to lead Kenya delegation to FITUR

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Balala to lead Kenya delegation to FITUR

Europe’s tourism and travel trade show circuit opens next week with Spain’s FITUR, the main travel event of its kind across the Iberian peninsula.

Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Hon. Najib Balala is part of the African ministerial panel that will take part in the roundtable discussion on “Technology and Design of new Touristic Products” as important elements of the Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa (INVESTOUR) at the trade show starting next week.

The annual event, scheduled to take place between January 18 to 22 in Madrid, will also be the launch pad for the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s Year of Sustainable Development Tourism 2017.

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development owing to the sector’s potential to contribute to and aid in the realization and achievement of the well spelled out 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Agenda is described as a plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity and is expected to build on the Millennium Development Goals and strive to achieve what the latter has not accomplished thus far.

A second discussion round during the INVESTOUR will focus on capacity development for youth and women in tourism.

Other key activities at FITUR will include the 13th edition of the UNWTO Awards on Innovation and Excellence in Tourism, which will be preceded by an Awards Forum in which the 12 top projects shortlisted to head the year’s initiative will be presented.

Commenting on the launch of the UNWTO declaration, the outgoing Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, observed that “This is a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalize its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation.”

The Year of Sustainable Tourism Development largely seeks to promote 5 key areas through collaboration by stakeholders across the globe. These include resource efficiency mainly touching on environmental protection and climate change, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, social inclusiveness which aims at job creation and poverty eradication, promotion of cultural values, and bolstering mutual understanding in a bid to promote peace and security.

FITUR will also see at least 4 bids to be launched for the office of Secretary General of UNWTO, which is up for election after Dr. Rifai’s second term of office comes to an end later this year. Among the candidates are Seychelles’ Alain St. Ange and Zimbabwe’s Dr. Eng. Walter Mzembi, both from Africa, competing against presently 2 other candidates from Brazil and Georgia.

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