Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Rifai

Taleb Rifai

Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Taleb Rifai's background combines solid political experience and technical knowledge in the field of tourism, as well as experience in the work and functioning of International Organizations. His background also provides him with extensive economic, business and academic experience. He was elected as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the General Assembly, Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2009 and begun his four-year term on 1 January 2010. He assumed the functions of Secretary-General ad interim of the World Tourism Organization from 1 March 2009 and served as Deputy Secretary-General from February 2006 to February 2009. Prior to assuming his current post, Taleb Rifai was the Assistant Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for three consecutive years. His responsibilities included the overall supervision and implementation of the International Labour Standards, as well as advising on labour markets and employment policies, particularly in the Middle East region. From 1999 to 2003, he served in several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan, first, as Minister of Planning and International Cooperation in charge of Jordan's Development Agenda and bilateral and multilateral relationships with donors and agencies. He was subsequently appointed Minister of Information, in which capacity he was spokesman of the Government of Jordan and in charge of communication and public media. During his tenure, he embarked on restructuring public media and in particular the Jordan Television Network. In 2001, his portfolio was expanded to include the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity. During his term as Minister of Tourism and Antiquity, Taleb Rifai established Jordan's first Archaeological Park in the ancient city of Petra in collaboration with UNESCO and the World Bank. He also realized several large projects in Jerash, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. As Minister of Tourism, he was the Chairman of the Jordan Tourism Board, President of the Ammon School for Tourism and Hospitality and was elected Chairman of the Executive Council of the UNWTO in 2001. In the three years preceding his service in the Jordanian Cabinet, he was appointed the CEO of Jordan's Cement Company, one of the country's largest public shareholding companies with over 4,000 employees. During his term he successfully led and directed the first large-scale privatization and restructuring scheme in Jordan by bringing in the world famous French cement company Lafarge in 1998 and continued to serve as CEO under the new Lafarge management.

Mr. Rifai can be contacted at 34-91-5679-324 or trafai@unwto.org

Coming up in May 2019...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.