World tourism head attacks media coverage of elections

World tourism head attacks media coverage of elections

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Outgoing UNWTO Secretary General, Dr Taleb Rifai

MADRID, Spain — At a United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) meeting in Madrid, ahead of the general assembly next month in China, the outgoing secretary general, Dr Taleb Rifai, chose to make critical remarks about investigative media articles related to the election.

However, he failed to address documented election misconduct within his own organization.

UNWTO represents global tourism and a continued slide into opaqueness, rather than transparency, has been described as disturbing.

Minister Walter Mzembi from Zimbabwe mounted a robust campaign to have agenda items related to election irregularities added to the general assembly meeting in China next month. This has received a great deal of pushback from Rifai.

Mzembi provided UNWTO with documentation of irregularities during the election, and it had been hoped that the outgoing secretary general would be proactive, and shine a light on it, to make it right.

“The top post of our UNWTO should be our top watch dog, guarding fiercely the reputation, standards, and ethics of the world’s leading tourism organization. This does not appear to be the case with Dr Rifai,” said eTurboNews (eTN), an industry leader of global travel/tourism news, which has a subsidiary media platform geared towards news relevant to UNWTO, WTTC and other international tourism organizations called WorldTourismWire.

eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz said: “We report with balance and fairness, regardless of the subject within either platform. News is news, and we have been diligently following and reporting on the UNWTO secretary general election, without favor, prejudice or any regard for who we might offend.”

Ninety countries were in attendance at the packed Madrid meeting but not one mention was made of election irregularities.