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Tourism board asked to increase its activities in Africa

By Philip Mwakio | January 27th 2014

By Philip Mwakio

Mombasa, Kenya: Africa is under represented at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Affiliate board.

Regional Vice President for Africa at the UNWTO Kenneth Ombongi said that mandate, activities and operations of the organisation’s affiliate members board and its 400 members are not very well understood in Africa and perhaps the rest of the developing world.

 Dr Ombongi, who is also the Kenya Utalii College Principal, urged the 23-member board to work on modalities that would increase its membership and create awareness about its activities in Africa.

“Out of the more than 400 UNWTO Affiliate Members, only a paltry 17 are from Africa,” he noted while speaking on the sidelines of this year’s edition of the Invest Tour, Madrid, Spain. “From East Africa, for example, there are only three members and all from Kenya, which include Kenya Utalii College, Kenyatta International Convention Centre and Kenya Tourism Board (KTB),” he added.

Ombongi said with the support of the board he would champion awareness meetings in Africa. He said he would be travelling to Rwanda shortly for a recruitment drive.

Training quality

Beginning with his own college, Utalii, Ombongi said he would sign a memorandum of understanding with the UNWTO to facilitate staff and student exchanges, sourcing of training materials  and strengthening of the UNWTO’s training quality certification programme (TEDQUAL) for African hospitality and tourism schools.

 Kenya Utalii College is the only holder of this certification in Africa.

“As the Secretary of the Association of Hospitality and Tourism Schools in Africa, we  will work closely with the UNWTO to promote quality and standards in hospitality education in the continent,’’ he said.

In the meantime, tourism has been identified as a key driver of global economies. 

And to maximise its contribution to the socio-economic development of nations, it is important to recognise the challenges posed by rapid changes in habits, choices and demands of tourists as well as the emergence of new players and business models

The UNWTO Secretary General, Dr Taleb Rifai, said this in his address to the newly reconstituted governing board of the UNWTO Affiliate Members in Madrid.

He also said social paradigms driven by Internet, require new institutional, entrepreneurial and public-private initiatives, which are more proactive, more differentiated and more coordinated than ever before.

Business forum

Rifai was addressing the 5th edition of INVEST TOUR, the tourism investment and business forum for Africa that was again held in Madrid as part of FITUR 2014.

He thanked the new President of the Board, Mr Miguol  Morines, for his election during the World Travel Market in London last November and said they would work together to promote sustainable global tourism, the core mandate of UNWTO.

Rifai said he wants to restructure the operations of the Affiliate Members to make them more inclusive and allow affiliate members to fully participate in the activities of the UNWTO. 

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