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UNWTO/116th Executive Council of Jeddah: Siandou Fofana and his peers reveal the ways of a better visibility

Position Côte d’Ivoire as a major tourist destination but also as an actor at the heart of the new global governance of the sector. This is the objective set by the Ivorian Government and which the Minister of Tourism announced during the 116th Session of the WTO Executive Council, from 7 to 9 June, in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).

The 116th Meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), kept all its promises, from June 7 to 9, in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This Session, rightly chaired by Siandou Fofana, Ivorian Minister of Tourism, current President of the said Council, and of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa, has, according to the directives of the Secretary General of the Agency United Nations specialist, Zurab Pololikashvili, working on “The future of tourism – Renewal of governance and advocacy”. Hence the term “decisive turning point” used by the delegates to qualify the issue.

Maneuvering for the permanent consensus that befits diplomacy, Siandou Fofana has been able to reconcile positions, aside through numerous hearings, as well as in plenary sessions, strong in his impregnation of all the files to be treated. This is how he was able, with his counterparts, including Ahmed Al Khatteb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, with whom he had several private audiences, to convince leaders in the public and private sectors to join forces and to unite around what has been dubbed “The Jeddah Call to Action”! Which is a commitment by UNWTO to rethink tourism governance at all levels to better adapt to the challenges facing tourism as a driver of global recovery. With the pandemic highlighting systemic vulnerabilities in the sector, the specialized UN agency has called for a new and revamped governance and financing system to be put in place, with the aim of building resilience to future shocks. while making tourism more sustainable. This posture was also at the center of the debriefing that the President of the Executive Council had, upon his arrival, with Mrs. Elcia Grancourt, Director for the Africa region of the General Secretariat of the UNWTO.

Resisting shocks, according to Siandou Fofana, requires more fluid structural and functional reforms, such as the establishment of UNWTO Regional Offices, which is relevant. Like that of Riyadh already recorded. Moreover, the activation of bilateral relations and between Regions, proves to be a niche to be explored. To this end, he had several audiences with Mr. Carlos Alberto Gomes de Brito, Minister of Tourism of Brazil, Mr. Ahmed Al Kateeb, Minister of Tourism of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Yacine Hamadi, Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts from Algeria. With them, Minister Fofana also discussed the development of tourism between their two countries and the creation of opportunities to facilitate mobility between the two states. The signing of a cooperation agreement between ministries has been envisaged. In addition, he exchanged with the Ministers of Tourism of Bahrain and South Africa

Governance rhymes with visibility of action, in Jeddah, UNWTO continued its tradition of complementing the important deliberations of its Executive Council with an open debate on the main challenges and opportunities of the sector. The Forum “Futures of tourism – New governance and promotion”, included, in this vein, two distinct sessions: “Towards a new governance” and “Better visibility of tourism outside the sector”.

“It’s time to think big,” said the UNWTO Secretary-General as he welcomed delegates and speakers. Zurab Pololikashvili stressed the need “to harness the unique potential of tourism to drive recovery, provide opportunity and build resilience, by improving and strengthening governance and focusing on jobs, training and education. “. Illustrating the diversity of UNWTO Members, the high-level thematic debate benefited from the contributions, in addition to Minister Siandou Fofana, of those of Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, Carlos Peguero, Deputy Minister of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, Tomohiro Kaneko, Deputy Commissioner, Japan Tourism Agency, Najib Balala, Kenyan Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki, Deputy Minister of Tourism of the Greek Republic, and Tonči Glavina, Secretary of State, Ministry of Tourism and Croatia Sports.

Media: Thinking big, being seen better!

To underscore the breadth of the sector and the extent of UNWTO’s influence, ministers attending the Forum were joined by high-level representatives from business, destinations, media and communications, namely Euronews, PRM Global, Interbrand, Netcom, Amadeus and the Diriyah Gateway Development Authority (DGGA). Referring to the shared desire to get tourism back on track, DGDA Director General Jerry Inzerillo noted, “We may not share the same ideology, we may not share the same theology, but we we share the same biology,” highlighting a universal desire to travel and connect with other cultures.

From a media perspective, Ruth Wright, Euronews’ Tourism and Lifestyle Editor, stressed that viewers continue to demand safety, as “travellers still feel that traveling is difficult and stressful”. As a result, content focused on rules and regulations remains relevant, even as human-centered tourism narratives become more popular. “Travelers long for a throwback to a time when travel was fun, carefree and full of unexpected surprises,” he added.

A strategy that seems to echo with “Sublime Côte d’Ivoire”. Which, precisely, arouses unaltered interest among investors, States and within the UNWTO. Moreover, this strategy is presented there as a model to be duplicated and has given the State of Côte d’Ivoire an aura within the world governance of tourism since the beginning of its implementation, under the rule of Minister Siandou Fofana.

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