Secretary General Taleb Rifai has been a dependable fixture with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for nearly a decade. When you hear the title of UNWTO Secretary General, his name and face automatically comes to mind. Taleb became the Secretary General in March 2009, serving before that as the Deputy Secretary General of the UN agency overlooking World Tourism from February 2006 to February 2009.
Taleb Rifai disclosed to ministers attending the World Travel Market in London earlier this month that he is going to resign as Secretary General at the next General Assembly in 2017 to be held in Chengdu, China.
This will open up the highest government position in the global travel and tourism world.
Who will run for the next Secretary General position? There is some time, and no one is campaigning yet, but here are some possible names.
Gloria is a business executive who began her professional career at NCR Corporation in 1989 and worked in the IT industry in various roles, working for North America, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa regions. Since 1995, she has worked for the travel and tourism industry in different capacities.
She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Anahuac University and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. She has studied in marketing, general management, project management, at such institutions as IPADE (PanAmerican Institute for High Business Direction), George Washington University, and other schools as well.
Ms. Manzo worked for Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Holdings for 15 years in a variety of positions. Based in Coral Gables, Florida, she had regional responsibilities and worked for the Latin America and Caribbean region. Later, she held global responsibilities as Vice President for Customer Solutions and Vendor Management in the CIO (what’s this? A place? A Title?) at the Sabre headquarter office in Southlake, Texas. Gloria was also the CEO of Sabre de Mexico, a joint venture between Aeromexico, Mexicana, and Sabre holdings, where she reported to the board of directors.
During Gloria’s time in the private sector, CNN and Expansion recognized her several years in the industry by naming her one of the most influential and powerful women in Mexico.
In March 2010, President Calderon appointed Gloria as the Secretary of Tourism, a cabinet position that leads a sector that contributes to 9% of Mexico’s GDP and employs 2.5 million people directly and 5 million indirectly, according to INEGI (the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico). Two weeks after her appointment, she was also given the responsibility of overseeing the Mexico Tourism Board.
Carlos is currently Director-Executive Secretary of Member Relations at the World Tourism Organization based in Madrid, Spain. Between January 2009 and December 2013, he held the position of Regional Director for the Americas at UNWTO, which he currently also retains.
He is a professor at the University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid for the Department of Business Economics, and is the author of various university textbooks on international tourism structure.
Mr. Vogeler started his career in the private sector at Pullmantur, one of the largest Spanish tour operators. During his 16 years of service from 1974 to 1990, he became Deputy Managing Director and introduced many innovations, namely expanding the number of destinations and products, opening new offices and new markets, mainly in Latin America. He also played an active role in the boards of the Spanish Travel Agencies Association and in UFTAA (United Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations).
From 1991 to 2008, he served in various senior management positions at Group RCI, part of Wyndham Worldwide, one of the world’s largest hospitality groups, where he was Managing Director for Southwestern Europe, covering Spain, France, Portugal, and Benelux. Later he was appointed as Vice president of Global Account Strategy & Industry Relations.
He was elected Chairman of the Affiliate Members of UNWTO from 2005 to 2008, representing Group RCI. Since 1997, he had been serving as Vice President of the board of the Affiliate Members and Chairman of the Business Council and is a member of the UNWTO Strategic Group.
He is also a founding member of the Spanish Association of Experts in Tourism (AECIT) and was a member of the International Association of Experts in Tourism (AIEST).
Carlos carried out his studies in Canada and in Spain, graduating in Tourism Business Administration from Escuela Oficial de Turismo de Madrid (now the University Rey Juan Carlos) and did his post-graduate studies at the IESE Business School of the University of Navarra in Spain.
Mr. Vogeler was born in Venezuela in 1952 and is a national of Spain and Venezuela.
Favilla is currently Executive Director for Operational Programs and Institutional Relations at UNWTO based in Madrid, Spain. Between January 2010 and December 2013, he held the position of UNWTO Executive Director for Competitiveness, External Relations, and Partnerships.
From April 2007, Mr. Favilla Lucca de Paula was Vice Minister of the Secretariat of Institutional Relations of the Presidency of Brazil.
Prior to this appointment, he was Brazil’s first Vice Minister of Tourism (2003-2007) where he played a key role in the structuring of the first exclusive Ministry of Tourism in Brazil.
During his term as Vice Minister of Tourism, he was actively involved in the development and implementation of the first National Tourism Plan and worked to increase both tourism arrivals into the country as well as domestic tourism.
He was also engaged in many of UNWTO’s activities as Head of the Brazilian delegation to all General Assembly and Executive Council sessions, and Chairman of the UNWTO Commission for the Americas in 2006.
From 1999 to 2002, he worked at the Ministry of Development, Industry, and International Trade as Head of the National Department for Business Registry among other positions.
Mr. Favilla Lucca de Paula was in Belo Horizonte from 1980 to 1998, first at the Development Bank of Minas Gerais and then as the State Secretariat for Finance of Minas Gerais.
Mr. Favilla Lucca de Paula has an MA in Development Studies from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands, where he specialized in Regional Development Planning (1985-1986). He obtained his undergraduate degree in Economics from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (1979).
Mr. Favilla Lucca de Paula is a Brazilian national, born in 1958.
Mr. Mzembi is a Zimbabwean politician, currently serving as Minister of Tourism. He is a Member of the House of Assembly for Masvingo South (ZANU-PF).
When the ZANU-PF Movement for Democratic Change national unity government was sworn in on February 13, 2009, Mzembi became Minister of Tourism. He has survived several shuffles in the cabinet of Zimbabwe, and of paramount importance it has been his role in the organizing the UNWTO to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in 2013. Mr. Mzembi has been outspoken and active within the UNWTO network and in the international arena.
In 2013, Seychelles President James Michel, named Alain St.Ange as the islands’ Minister of Tourism & Culture following a reshuffle of his Cabinet of Ministers.
Alain St.Ange is well known to the world of tourism. He was until now the dynamic and well-respected CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. Before that, he was a private-sector tourism personality, having managed accommodation establishments in the Seychelles, the Channel Islands in the UK, and in Australia. He has also been a former Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, of the SHTA (the Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association).
The published biography of 57-year-old Alain St.Ange in Who’s Who in Seychelles by James Mancham, the first President of the islands, shows that Alain St.Ange was born on the island of La Digue in October 1954, and that he followed his formal education at the Seychelles College on the main island of Mahe. He also followed Hotel Management Studies in Germany and Tourism Studies in France.
Alain St.Ange is well-known on the international scene, where he is a popular speaker at tourism forums and conventions. He has been credited with increasing the visibility of the Seychelles in all of the islands’ key markets and having turned the Seychelles tourism industry around since taking office, first as Director of Tourism and later as CEO of the islands’ Tourism Board.
Alain St. Ange has been extremely active in UNWTO recently and brought a lot stronger voice to Africa as a whole. St.Ange is liked in all parts of the world. He is outspoken, approachable, and has single-handedly brought Seychelles to the global map as a world-class island destination.
The wild card is China. Since China won the bid for the 2017 General Assembly, it may have ambitions to also make a run for the UNWTO General Secretary position.
Mr. Xu Jing is currently Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at UNWTO – a position he has occupied since the end of 2003. In addition to his regional responsibilities, as of January 2014, he was appointed UNWTO’s Director-Executive Secretary of the General Assembly and the Executive Council.
Mr. Xu Jing began his career in tourism at the China National Tourism Administration where he was in charge of the International Relations division. He joined UNWTO in 1992 as Officer to the Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific. Over the years, he coordinated and supervised numerous UNWTO technical cooperation projects and sectoral support missions on subjects of contemporary interest to the tourism community of Asian countries.
In addition to the above, Mr. Xu Jing holds honorary academic positions in a number of universities, in some of which he has lectured on tourism issues of international and regional significance. These include the Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Suzhou, Sun Yat-sen University, Shanghai Institute of Tourism, Hainan University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kyunghee University (Republic of Korea), and University of Balearic Islands (Spain). He is also a senior advisor to the Chinese Municipalities of Guilin and Huangshan.
Mr. Xu Jing holds a Master’s Degree in Tourism Management from the University of Surrey in England and majored in English literature during his undergraduate studies in Beijing Second Foreign Language Institute.