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Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki Highlights Tourism’s Cultural Benefits Upon Joining UNWTO/WTTC Global Leaders Campaign

Joining the UNWTO/WTTC Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, President Mwai Kibaki recognized tourism as “a great opportunity to learn from one another and share different traditions and cultures” (Nairobi, Kenya, 23 June).

“We see and value tourism as one of the greatest avenues through which the people of the world are able to sample the varied cultures and natural attributes that are to be found globally,” said President Kibaki on receiving an Open Letter from UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, and WTTC President and CEO, David Scowsill, on the importance of Travel & Tourism to sustainable and inclusive growth and development.

“Kenya will continue to be at the forefront in supporting this industry that is helping in alleviating poverty, creating employment and other opportunities for people in our country and around the world,” the President added.

The President’s message was echoed by the Minister of Tourism of Kenya, Najib Balala. “Tourism can bring tolerance and understanding among different cultures and can contribute to a better living standard,” he said.

“The 1.5 million international tourists that visited Kenya in 2010 generated US$ 700 million for the country’s economy,” said Mr. Rifai. “This revenue translates into income, jobs, roads, hospitals, schools and countless other benefits which particularly reach the poorest segments of the population”.

Mr. Scowsill said “Kenya has made huge strides in attracting tourists to the country where the sector now employs 10% of the work force. Further investment is now needed to continue advancing this critical industry in Kenya – both marketing funds from the government and hotel infrastructure investment from the private sector”.

Mr. Scowsill urged President Kibaki to take a leadership role with other East African countries to champion more open access for airlines, common visas and joint marketing. “There is going to be an increasing demand from tourists for multi-country travel in Africa, and now is the time to lay the groundwork to make this happen”.
Through the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, UNWTO and WTTC are jointly presenting heads of state and government around the world an Open Letter which calls on them to acknowledge tourism’s key role in delivering more sustained and balanced growth and to prioritize the sector high in national policies in order to maximize its potential. The Open Letter outlines Travel & Tourism’s value as one of the world’s largest generators of jobs, a powerful driver of socio-economic growth and development and a key player in the transformation to the Green Economy.

The Campaign has already received the support of the Presidents of Mexico, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Burkina Faso and Indonesia.

Relevant links:

Open Letter to Heads of State and Government: http://leadersfortourism.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/finalgoldenbookopenlettertext.pdf   

Further Information on the Joint Campaign: http://www.unwto.org/pdf/More_information_campaign.pdf

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