It is now confirmed that Zurab Pololikashvili, the current secretary-general of the UN affiliated World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) body will be facing HE Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa from Bahrain in the coming elections for the post of the former agency’s secretary-general. She is a successful sitting Minister, responsible for tourism over many years, which makes her a credible candidate for the office seen as the highest office for tourism ministers.
The world of tourism has never before had a woman, or a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizen, as Secretary-General at the helm of the UNWTO and this makes her candidature an interesting one. As a former candidate for the same position but a couple of years ago, I personally welcome Bahrain’s candidature and wish her success. The time is now not to hear more promises but instead it is time to demand why delivery by the current UNWTO head was not done, even during the time when a new drive was so needed as COVID 19 was being felt in tourism destinations right across the world.
Alain St.Ange – a tourism personality beyond borders so ‘What Next’ for him?
A Seychellois, erstwhile Tourism Minister, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine (2012-2016), Alain St.Ange was one of the candidates for the position of Secretary General of the UNWTO in the election that saw the current SG Zurab Pololikashvili elected to office. Seychelles came into the race with a style that reflected their candidate’s flamboyant character that put his deep knowledge and understanding of tourism to the forefront. His personalised approach of campaigning for the SG position saw him crisscross the world to touch on countries with a vote in that UN election.
Jordanian Dr Taleb Rifai, the fifth SG of the organisation had followed the potential candidates vying to replace him and he is known to have initially sparked the interest into St.Ange at a UNWTO tourism meeting in Reunion Island as was reported in the island’s press at the time. Alain St.Ange had gathered support for his candidature across Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas even before making the bold move to launch his candidature with Dr Rifai in Madrid before an armada of press.
He was shortlisted as one with a clear potential to win, but President Danny Faure of his island nation under political pressure from President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe withdrew this country’s Letter of Support and in so doing collapsing the St. Ange candidature but two days before the elections and even after St.Ange had personally arrive in the Spanish capital of Madrid for the elections.
A demoralised St. Ange vowed while still in Madrid to take President Faure to court for reneging on an agreement made to enable the Seychelles’ candidate to challenge the world’s highest office for tourism ministers. The latter St. Ange did, and exactly a year ago today he won his case in front of the Supreme Court of Seychelles. As the World of Tourism marks the one-year anniversary of this landmark court case, Seychelles has seen a change of President from Danny Faure to Wavel Ramkalawan and Zimbabwe as well from Robert Mugabe to Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The UNWTO is at the same time once again going through the process of electing their Secretary General. Sadly capable African Tourism leaders such as Alain St.Ange are not seen to be featured as potential candidates yet Africa is one continent that needs tourism to work as an industry.
COVID -19 has created havoc in tourism right across the world but Africa is feeling the pinch a bit harder because so many African Countries are so dependent on tourism. The same can be said for African airlines that are suffering because of the collapse of travel to and from Africa. For all the latter, Alain St.Ange buttresses up the candidacy of Bahrain’s Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa for the post of UNWTO SG.
For further information
About Alain St.Ange: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_St_Ange
About Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa:
Photography of Dr Taleb Rifai and Alain St.Ange – Picture by Alain St.Ange’s Consultancy