Addressing the tourism fraternity at the Kampala Serena Hotel on Sunday on his first official visit to Uganda, Mr. Taleb remarked that tourism is oil that runs the economies and which never runs out if well preserved. He was flanked by the UNWTO regional coordinator for Africa Mr. Ousman Ndiaye and the UN Resident Coordinator Ms Aziakwona Ononchie.
Mr. Taleb implored the political leadership of Uganda to place tourism sector high on the national agenda describing it as the investment for the future. Politically, it is the most effective tool for creation of peace when people travel and rub shoulders, he observed.
The Secretary General noted that travel and tourism play a central role in the socio economic transformation of the country by creating employment and promoting better understanding. He said globally tourism generates 5.2 trillion dollars a year and is the third largest industry. In 2012,on billion tourists crossed borders to visit other countries ,he said adding that it is now time for Uganda to shine.
Mr. Taleb said Uganda is enormously endowed with tourism potential arguing that what "you do with what you have is what matters" .He promised that the UN system in the country will work together to promote and foster tourism growth.
Uganda Vice President Mr. Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi said "We appreciate the technical support that UNWTO and UNDP is currently giving Uganda in the review of our tourism policy and development of the tourism master plan and the development of inclusive Markets in Tourism sector Project".
He added that the purpose of Mr. Taleb's visit to Uganda is in line with Uganda's development agenda of the socio economic transformation. He said tourism is one of the sectors driving the agenda of creating employment, and developing a productive and competitive labour force.
The minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Dr. Maria Mutagamba said government is working with UNWTO to define Destination –Pearl of Africa by harnessing her natural and cultural endowments. She hailed the UNWTO for the technical assistance to develop the Tourism Policy and Master plan 2003 which has expired in 2013 and Uganda is embarking on a new ten year plan.
Mr. Taleb was due to meet the President as State House Entebbe and other development partners during a breakfast business meeting.