Candidate for UNWTO General Secretariat seeks to create Assistance Fund
Mai Al Khalifa, current President of the Bahrain Authority, stated that the current situation of tourism due to the pandemic is unprecedented in the world and the priority is the recovery of the sector
The situation that tourism is going through derived from the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and the priority of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in its new stage should be the recovery phase of the sector through an Assistance Fund said Mai Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and a candidate for the General Secretariat of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
“I will ensure that the organizations that control the resources are fully aware of the difficulties facing the sector. In the first instance, it is important to develop a UNWTO Assistance Fund to deal with the emergency, which allows the effective reactivation of tourism ”, he explained.
"The commitment is to work to obtain funds through donor banks, financing agencies and large corporations, which allow establishing this support to the sector," he said.
Mai Al Khalifa said that the Latin American region represents a strategic market for the development of tourism activity at a global level, and highlighted the contribution made by countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru, among others.
Reactivating tourism, he pointed out, requires more effective communication between tourism sending and receiving countries, guided by the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other international agencies.
“I aspire to make UNWTO an example of sustainability, diversity, integrity and responsibility. One of the great challenges is the immediate alleviation of poverty and socio-economic regeneration, the current challenges facing tourism provide the opportunity to more effectively align the sector with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Reaching these objectives by 2030 requires the launching of schemes within governments, companies and international agencies, on issues that include climate change and the use of clean energy in the tourism sector ”, he indicated.
He considered that, additionally, the UNWTO should develop a new vision in terms of innovation and technology, international standards for training and education in tourism and hospitality, which allow the sector to adapt to the new reality. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has implemented innovative measures, such as scheduled entry to museums, offering outdoor services and adapting tourist destinations to social distancing, among other actions.
Mai Al Khalifa is also the Arab Regional President for UNESCO World Heritage Sites and founder of the Sheikh Ebrahim Center for Research and Culture. She has served as Minister of Culture in her country and has been Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development of the UNWTO.
She was the promoter of the global initiative “Invest in culture”, which since 2006 has secured 125 million dollars in support of more than 20 cultural tourism projects such as museums, regeneration of historic buildings and restoration of world heritage sites. This initiative is cited as a prominent example of a public-private partnership.
He has also received the Colbert Prize for Creativity and Heritage, the Aga Khan Prize for Architecture and the World Monuments Fund “The Watch” Prize, among other recognitions.