Once again, I make my case as a candidate for growth and unity. Having been invited to attend all recent Regional Commission meetings – for which let me thank the Secretariat and, of course, Secretary General Rifai – and with the benefit of an outside – inside view arising out of extensive travelling and participation in member countries programmes over the last eight years, I believe I now have a comprehensive appreciation of the strengths, threats, weaknesses and aspirations of each geopolitical block. That appreciation has come from personal, direct engagement – not from a desk-top study.
This is why you will find my transformation agenda includes seeking to capacitate Regional Commissions, as implementation, monitoring, supervisory and evaluation agencies of decisions taken by the Executive Council and General Assemblies. This devolution agenda will be tabled during my tenure attendant with innovative sources of funding that will resource Regional Commissions without placing any additional financial burden on member states by way of increased subscriptions, premiums or levies. We simply have to be more creative and more pro-active in generating funds to render UNWTO more meaningful, in practical terms, to its membership and in responding, again practically, to their expectations. We have to take the Organisation to the people.
Regions currently operate in silos and the future should see better interaction and collaboration reflecting enhanced source market and destination relationships. I am challenging member states to embrace the development of a growth strategy that is both inclusive and progressive, and, again, I appeal to you to support me so that, from tourism, we may realise greater productivity and wealth for all nations. The high global rate of attrition and turn-over of tourism ministers is well-known and even acknowledged. It deprives global tourism of a much-needed core-continuity with informed and deep-rooted capacity for reflection, to envision and to develop coherent strategies to address the changing and ever-more complex challenges confronting our industry. To some extent, the Executive Council and, behind it, the Secretariat, partially fulfill this role. But, in my view, more is needed.
A lean and efficient Secretariat, outsourcing a significant part of its work to the industry and academic-related think tanks, in collaboration with industry associations, will be able to place before the Executive Council much more meaningful, better-researched and more practical agendas for their consideration. By 2020, for example, China will emerge as the single largest source market in the world, generating an estimated 600 million outbound travellers. Study groups on China for each Region will be inaugurated to plan for this phenomenon. The same applies to other major emerging markets such as India, Russia and Brazil.