#UNWTOElections:Top Tourism Expert Backs Alain St. Ange for UNTWO SG Post


Top Tourism Expert and Senior Advisor to National Geographic Travel, Costas Christ has joined a long list of prominent people who are endorsing the candidature of Alain St. Ange for the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Costas Christ is the Senior Advisor to National Geographic Travel and the Chairman of the National Geographic World Legacy Awards. Costas Christ is one of the World’s Top Tourism Experts whose work has taken him to 130 counties around the world. He was honoured alongside Ted Turner, the CNN Founder, Conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall and Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson as Global Visionary working to save the planet.

In a letter addressed to Mr. St.Ange of the Seychelles, the Candidate for the coming UNWTO elections Mr. Costas Christ wrote:

“It is with great consideration and a deep commitment to a sustainable future for the global travel and tourism industry that I write to you today with my full endorsement and recommendation of your candidacy to become the next Secretary General of UNWTO. I am completely confident that you have the detailed knowledge and understanding needed to support tourism’s economic development potential and to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Your leadership as the next UNWTO Secretary General will help to ensure that the benefits of tourism reach as many countries as possible, further delivering on the promise of tourism to improve local peoples’ livelihoods and safeguard protection of natural and cultural heritage for future generations.

We are now at a critical crossroads in the global travel and tourism industry, where rapid growth in international tourist arrivals is predicted to reach nearly 2 billion travellers over the next decade.

As UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, recently stated: “Every day, more than three million tourists cross international borders. Every year almost 1. 2 billion people travel abroad. Tourism has become a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives. The world can and must harness the power of tourism … ”
lt is my firm belief that the next Secretary General of UNWTO will play a crucial role in harnessing the power of tourism to make the world a better place, and that you are the right person, at the right time, to lead the way forward.

I do not make the above statement lightly – knowing of your own successful work in the Seychelles as the former Minister of Tourism, your ongoing commitment to sustainable tourism, your extensive knowledge and experience on the world stage of tourism policy and planning, and your excellent speaking abilities to articulate a unifying vision for the future of tourism. This is all the more urgent at a time when the forces of discrimination and extreme nationalism threaten the future of travel. Travel Unites and Borders Divide – whether those borders are building physical walls or represent discrimination based on race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin. We need a UNWTO leader who understands the importance of welcoming everyone – including the vibrant and growing LGBT community – under the tourism industry umbrella. We need a UNWTO leader who stands for uniting the world of travel and tourism. You are that leader.

I have known first-hand about your excellent work for many years to advance sustainable tourism for development in the Seychelles, where you also have a first-hand understanding about fragile ecosystems. As a Minister, you also understood the important role of public-private partnerships for sustainable economic development. Likewise, I have seen you on the world stage, as a passionate advocate for tourism’s economic benefits to address poverty, support business growth and to safeguard our planet’s natural and cultural treasures – the very things the travel industry needs to prosper. I have no doubt that you will represent UNWTO and its members with that same passion and commitment to ensuring that the benefits of tourism support national development goals in countries around the world based on sustainable tourism best practices.

In my past work for a decade with the World Travel and Tourism Council, my current position as Global Strategist for Virtuoso Travel Network and role as Senior Advisor on Sustainable Tourism to National Geographic, as well as having supported the United Nations Foundation to help launch the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, I have seen the challenges and the opportunities of tourism up close. The new Secretary General of UNWTO needs to take tourism policies and planning to the next level to support a robust travel and tourism industry that embraces sustainability as a cornerstone for economic development.

I firmly believe that you are the best candidate to become the next UNWTO Secretary General and to serve as a global spokesperson for a prosperous travel and tourism industry that is committed to environmentally-friendly business practices, that supports the protection of biodiversity, that safeguards cultural diversity, and that delivers meaningful economic and social benefits to local people around the world. The question is no longer can sustainable tourism work to create jobs and help to protect our fragile planet. Numerous studies and evidence indicate that it does. The real question is how far can we take sustainable tourism best practices to transform the global travel and tourism as a greater force for good? I believe that you are the right person to lead the way forward.

Likewise, in what can often be a fragmented tourism industry, we need to unite around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We need strong leadership to guide us there, to help in identifying the right policies, planning and decisions that will define a brighter future for tourism. And we need that tourism future to be positive for all life on Earth. Without any hesitation, you have my full support to become the next UNWTO Secretary General. Wishing you the greatest success”.

Alain St.Ange said he was humbled by the endorsement by such a tourism personality.
“Tourism is an industry like nothing else. It is not the time to play politics with an industry that touches the economy of so many countries of our world and the livelihood of millions. The bargaining by countries asking for a vote on 12 May in return for a vote for another UN position is BAD News for an industry that needs today a leader and a friend to steer it so that everyone benefits from it.

Tourism for All is a must and this without discrimination of colour of the skin, of gender, of disability, of sexual preferences, of religion or of politics. We must learn to respect and protect. Respect our women, our LGBT groups, our children, our disabled, our natural attractions and our environment inclusive of all the animals, birds and sea life that brings so much joy to us all,’’ he stated.