While the United Nations General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the ST-EP Foundation co-hosted an award ceremony in honor of H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon and his dedication to global causes including human rights, sustainability and peace as 8th UN Secretary-General, in Seoul, South Korea.
This special event took place on March 22, 2017 at the Seoul Arts Center (SAC), in presence of H.E. Mr. Ban, H.E. Mr. Song Soo-keun, Korean Acting Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO, and Amb. Dho Young-shim, Chairperson of the ST-EP Foundation based in Seoul, and UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) Advocate.
Participants included former Korean Ministers, several ambassadors and members of the diplomatic community in Korea, officials of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, the head of UN ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office, officials of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, and the UNWTO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Millennium Destinations, was also present.
The guests had the opportunity to visit Le Corbusier Special Exhibition at Hangaram Design Museum, before attending the award ceremony on the same premises. After being introduced by Amb. Dho, Dr. Rifai delivered a warm speech focusing on the growing recognition of the tourism industry within the UN family over the past 10 years, and presented a plaque of appreciation to Mr. Ban, in recognition of his "valuable support and commitment, to the work of UNWTO in promoting sustainable tourism for peace, development, and poverty alleviation during his 10-year tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations."
Dr. Rifai also reminded the audience that UNWTO was the youngest UN specialized agency, and that Mr. Ban visited its headquarters in Madrid on the occasion of his first visit to Spain as UN Secretary-General.
In his vibrant speech, Mr. Ban stressed the important role of the tourism industry, which "serves as ambassador of culture and mutual understanding, peace, reconciliation, tolerance and mutual respect."
Mr. Ban also shared his personal and sincere opinion on Amb. Dho’s candidacy to be the next Secretary-General of UNWTO, declaring that he had "great confidence and trust as a personal citizen of Korea that she can be the best [only next to Dr. Rifai] to promote tourism and by promoting tourism we can expect more peaceful societies."
Currently, Amb. Dho Young-shim is one of the seven candidates, and the only Asian and female candidate, running to be the next UNWTO Secretary-General, with the elections taking place in Madrid during the 105th session of the UNWTO Executive council in May 10-12, 2017.