Taleb Rifai re-elected as UNWTO Secretary-General

Mr Rifai, an enthusiastic supporter of the youth and student travel community was re-elected at the 20th Session of the UN World Tourism Organization’s biennial General Assembly held last week at Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe.

Taleb RifaiIn recent years Mr Rifai’s appearance as been a highlight of the programme of the World Youth & Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) when he has met with delegates and spoken with passion about the need to encourage young people to travel for work, study and leisure.

‘Supporting youth tourism is an essential competitive factor for destinations and companies’ said Mr Rifai in his welcome speech to delegates at WYSTC in San Diego in 2012. ‘We need to support destinations around the world in understanding the importance of young people as a market to nurture, increasing their understanding of how and why young people travel, their expectations and limitations and the true economic impact of their travel’ he added. His comments on the youth travel industry today were also broadcast in this video and this year delegates will receive a personal video message at the opening of WYSTC 2013 in Sydney.

At this year’s edition of WYSTC, WYSE Travel Confederation will also be presenting its latest New Horizons III report on the unique travel motivations, activities, booking and spending habits of young travellers. The report features a personal message from Mr Rifai in which he reminds governments of the need to take young peoples’ travel needs seriously:  ‘Tourism can only make its fullest contribution to the world´s economic and social wellbeing if governments are awake to the potential of youth travel and fully understand its impact on destinations. This is why carrying out vital research like New Horizons is so important’ he notes.

Mr Rifai served in various ministerial posts in the government of Jordan before becoming Assistant Director General of the International Labour Organization from 2003-2006. He became Deputy Secretary General of UNWTO in February 2006 and was first elected to the post of Secretary General in 2010.

For more information on UNWTO please visit www.unwto.org

For more information about the New Horizons III report please click here.