His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta conferred the Award of Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya, Second Class Elder of the Golden Heart (EGH) to Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for his distinguished and outstanding services rendered to Kenya.
The EGH was presented to Dr. Rafai by CS Najib Balala during the Tourism Innovation and Change Forum at KICC.
Speaking during the award ceremony, CS Balala thanked Dr. Rifai for his support for Kenya’s tourism sector especially after the 2013 Westgate Mall attack.
“I would like to thank His Excellency President Kenyatta for recognizing Dr. Rifai who has worked extremely hard for our tourism sector, going a long way in restoring the faith of the world’s tourism sector in our nation,” he said. “The UN WTO under the leadership of Dr. Rifai made the case for Kenya and argued against travel advisories from our key tourism markets. As a country we owe much to Dr. Rifai and he deserves the EGH commendation.”
In response, Dr. Rifai said the award was a great honor, one that he would cherish forever. “I will wear this award with pride and joy; I hope my children and grandchildren will keep and remember Kenya,” he said.
Commenting on travel bans, Dr. Rifai said such advisories often punish the victims. “The forces of darkness around the world target tourism attractions, often hurting the industry and we must therefore ask ourselves, whose agenda do travel bans support? Do such bans and advisories punish the victims and reward the aggressors? This has been my argument against travel bans,” he added.
“Kenya is a beautiful country and I believe your tourism sector will grow. Thank you for honoring me.”