Outgoing UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai was honoured with Kenya’s ‘Order of the Golden Heart‘ award, handed over to him by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala yesterday.
Dr. Taleb proved to be one of Kenya’s most outspoken defenders when countries like Britain and the United States slapped the country with prohibitive anti travel advisories a few years ago while their respective High Commission and Embassy staff frolicked on the country’s deserted beaches and undertook safaris at huge rebates while ordinary tourists stayed away.
Said Dr. Taleb when commenting on those days: ‘The forces of darkness around the world target tourism attractions, often hurting the industry and we must therefore ask ourselves, whose agenda do travel bans support? Do such bans and advisories punish the victims and reward the aggressors? This has been my argument against travel bans. Kenya is a beautiful country and I believe your tourism sector will grow. Thank you for honoring me‘.
Earlier on had Balala also made reference to Dr. Taleb’s efforts when he mentioned in his speech: ‘The UNWTO under the leadership of Dr. Rifai made the case for Kenya and argued against travel advisories from our key tourism markets. As a country we owe much to Dr. Rifai and he deserves the EGH commendation‘.
Dr. Taleb was on his arguably last visit during his current and last term of office to attend a tourism conference.
Credit: Prof Wolfgang Thome