Secretary general Taleb Rifai, who arrived in the country on Saturday ahead of a UNWTO executive council meeting today, said Kenya has recovered remarkably quickly from the turmoil that rocked the country during the 2007/2008 post election violence. “We are not here in Kenya and particularly in Mombasa by accident. We are here because there is a very important message behind our meeting here.
The message is, Kenya is important to us and Kenya is strongly back on stage. The world was just waiting for Kenya to get over its internal difficulty which it did in a remarkable way,” said Rifai.
Rifai said Kenya is open for tourism and there is the political will in the East African Community to work together to boost the region’s tourism sector. UNWTO chair Michela Brambilla will today officially open the meeting of the 90th executive council for which a record 29 of the 31 heads of delegations representing the 155 member states of the UNWTO have confirmed participation.
The meeting, being held for the first time in Subsaharan Africa, will discuss important issues in the sector leading to the general assembly to be held in Korea in October. It will among other things approve the plan of work of the entire WTO and the budget for the next two years.
The delegation will then on Wednesday visit the Maasai Mara national park for the whole day and night before flying to Nairobi on Thursday where the inaugural Tourism Awards ceremony will be held.
On Friday, Rifai will lead a delegation to meet President Kibaki who will sign the golden book, becoming the second African president to sign the book after South Africa’s Jacob Zuma. The golden book commits countries and heads of states to supporting the tourism sector.