UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai has met with 84 heads of government during his years in office, and in the face of his impending departure at the end of the year, this interview discusses his view of the travel sector and its potential to be a force for good.

This article discusses: this year’s UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, raising awareness and promoting policies and actions around sustainability; the US tarvel ban, and its challenge to human rights, freedom, and non-discrimination, and the positive benefits of tourism; the fact that every 43 tourism visas issued to the US created one US job; ban on UK flights to Sharm el-Sheikh; the fact that people respect tourism now, less about lying on a beach, but about jobs and development.

Rifai concludes: “I hope the main objective [of my successor] will be to present travel and tourism as a social force, as an economic force, not as something on its own.”

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