Kenya has been elected to Chair the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Committee on Tourism and Competitiveness, solidifying its position as a leader in the global tourism industry.
The announcement was made at the first meeting of the committee held at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, Spain. Kenya won the position after two rounds of voting, defeating strong bids from Thailand and Malta.
Commenting on the election, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Dr. Alfred Mutua said: “This is a historic moment and an important win for Kenya’s as it put us in a position of decision making in matters that affect tourism across the globe. This vote demonstrates the confidence that UNWTO member states have in Kenya’s leadership and ability to steer the organization’s agenda on tourism competitiveness.”
He added that tourism is a key pillar of Kenya economy and chairing the committee would allow synergy with other UNWTO members in shaping policy, building partnerships, and promoting best practices in tourism. “We shall champion initiatives that will help in the creation of jobs, protecting of the planet as well as driving inclusive growth that can be felt and be impactful within communities,” said CS Mutua
The Executive Director of the UNWTO Zoritsa Urosevic, congratulated Kenya on securing the chair position acknowledging Kenya’s remarkable achievements in the tourism sector. She expressed confidence in the country’s ability to lead the Committee effectively.
“I commend Kenya for its commitment to sustainable tourism development. As one of the important tourism economies in Africa, Kenya will bring valuable experience and expertise that will lead the Committee’s work in enhancing competitiveness and responsible tourism across UNWTO member countries,” Urosevic said.
The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife had appointed Wausi Walya, Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager at the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to lead the pitch for Kenya as the designated technical officer and appointed focal person for the technical committee by the Ministry.
Kenya’s successful bid was anchored on its tourism competitiveness pillars such as destination marketing, diversified tourism offerings, sustainable tourism practices, cultural and natural heritage, training, and skills development programs as well as innovations and technology among other strengths.
The country’s infrastructural development strides in areas of roads, airports and hospitality facilities were also highlighted as key enablers which have unlocked growth potential for the sector.
The UNWTO Committee on Tourism and Competitiveness acts as a platform for cooperation between Member States to enhance the competitiveness of their offering, promote innovation, and ensure the sustainable growth of tourism worldwide.
Kenya takes over the chairmanship for three years and will hold the position between 2024 and 2027. Other committees of the UNWTO where Kenya is mandated to represent Africa include the Programme and Budget Committee (up to 2025) and the Committee on Tourism and Sustainability where Kenya will be a representative until 2027.