(Dr. Taleb Rifai seen here emerging from the traditional homestead at the Kinigi Kwita Izina showground after being dressed in a traditional ceremonial Rwandan outfit – picture by W. Thome)
The Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization, Dr. Taleb Rifai, was among the 13 namers of newborn gorillas, and of a newly formed breakaway gorilla family, at this year’sKwita Izina festival in Kinigi, Musanze District of north western Rwanda.
Dr. Rifai was selected by the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department alongside such other personalities like Jeffrey Sachs, the American economist and Director of the Earth Institute in Washington, actors Isaiah Washington and Ramsey Tokunbo Nouah, Paul Dalgleish, Marriott International’s Director of Sales and Marketing for Africa and the Middle East and renowned Kenyan wildlife lobbyist Dr. Paula Kahumbu, among others.
While naming, a link to a YouTube upload of the address is shown here (), Dr. Rifai brought the greetings of the world tourism fraternity to Rwanda and in a number of one on one conversations with tourism representatives from several African countries present at the event, urged them to attend the forthcoming UNWTO General Meeting. This year’s UNWTO meeting will be held in August and hosted jointly by the Zambian city of Livingstone and the Zimbabwean city of Victoria Falls, an event which is expected to turn the world’s focus on Africa as an emerging tourism destination. Todate Africa is only receiving a fraction of the global travel which now stands at well over 1 billion people and for many countries on the continent tourism could be the answer to poverty reduction, job creation, foreign exchange earnings and direct foreign investment, a trend actively promoted by Dr. Rifai’s administration at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid.