More candidates emerge for world’s biggest tourism job
THE countdown to the election for the top tourism job in the world — that of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary General — slated for May has started in earnest, more candidates have emerged.
Zimbabwe’s Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Dr Walter Mzembi, will fight it out with Mr Zurab Pololikashvili of Georgia, Márcio 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 Zurab Márcio Favilla Lucca de Paula, the current UNWTO executive director for operational programmes and institutional relations and second-in-charge of UNWTO.
Marcio represents institutional knowledge which he can manipulate in his favour and has been running the organisation for more than half a year after outgoing Secretary General Dr Talib Rifai inexplicably stood down for him about a year before the election.
Analysts say Dr Rifai, an accomplished Diplomat and former Minister of Finance of Jordan, stood down to give, his deputy, Marcio a head starting advantage.
Dr Mzembi is however, not a novice to have been in the UNWTO executive council since 2010 and being the chair of the UNWTO African Commission for two terms.
The other candidates are Georgian Ambassador to Madrid, Mr Pololikashvili, 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 headquarter in Southlake Texas.
Then there is Alain St. Ange of Seychelles, who resigned his job as Minister of Tourism in the small Island on December 28 last year to concentrate on the UNWTO campaign.
Morocco’s Minister of Tourism Mr Lahcen Haddad, has also thrown in his name in the hat.
There is going to be excitement in Madrid, Spain on January 19 when Dr Mzembi and Macio Paula hold campaign dinners running concurrently at 7 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 more interesting which function outgoing UNWTO Secretary General Dr Talib Rifai will attend, given that two 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 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 manoeuvres 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 organisation in 1975. Below are the people who have held the post. — Robert Lonati 1975–1985 — Willibald Pahr 1986–1989 — Antonio Enriquez Savignac 1990–1996 — Francesco Frangialli 1997–
France Austria Mexico
— 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 only one winner will emerge.