By UNWTO Wire
Published February 24, 2017
Alain St. Ange, the former minister of Tourism for the Seychelles is trying hard to be heard in Africa to compete against Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s current minister for tourism, for the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The two African candidates have one argument in common: No African has ever served as the UNWTO Secretary General.
Following up on his interviews on CNN, BBC and SKY TV in mid February, Alain St.Ange said in Kampala, Uganda:” In Seychelles, we respect the people with a disability, we have moved to realize that their strength is their difference, and we prefer to refer to them as the handi-abled as we open doors for everyone. Today is some part of the world the state of tolerance is at its lowest with rhetoric based on discrimination of color, race, religion, politics and sexual preference seen as being terrible. There is hate, there is poison. Together we can work with the press for a new departure to sideline those who need help accept that tourism and the world of tourism is for all.”
He then went on to speak about the electoral procedure when he added: ‘I appreciate that it is the Minister of Tourism of the countries with a seat on the Executive Council of the UNWTO who will be casting a vote in the May elections, but believing in Democracy it is important to let those who have worked with me for tourism to also echo their feelings as they speak to their own Governments about their ideal choice. I am thankful for this democratic approach of endorsements for the coming election for the seat of Secretary General for the UNWTO by the frontline team of tourism. They have worked with me for tourism and they know me well. They all remain the motor behind tourism and what makes tourism tick.
St. Ange concluded by adding: “If elected as Secretary-General I will raise the cause of tourism for all as a must for a UN body. My strategies to help not only the disabled travelers but also to help the person with a disability to find work in the tourism industry is clear. We all know that travel produces long-term health benefits with leisure opportunities relieving stress. We also know finding employment for people with disabilities is a must as we grow up and respect people…simple.
My vision also includes the setting up of regional UNWTO offices to directly benefit member states and allow an immediate response should any type of event make this necessary. Imagine how the wider East Africa could benefit from such a presence in terms of support.”
St.Ange’s address did not get well with the government of Uganda who indicated the African Union had endorsed the Minister of Tourism for Zimbabwe, Dr Walter Mzembi, for the UNWTO Post.
However, Uganda’s voice is not so important as it is not a member of the UNWTO Executive Council whose members will be meeting in May 2017 to recommend their candidate to the UNWTO General Assembly.
Though the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of which Seychelles is a member endorsed Mzembi in March 2016 followed by another endorsement by the AU as the African candidate for UNWTO in July 2016, both he and St Ange who seems to be swimming against the current in Africa, both candidates may need to convince UNWTO Executive Council of their suitability. The current council comprises Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia and Zambia.