This New Day at UNWTO is a Giant Step for Travel, Tourism, and the World Economy

Today, 85 countries voted for UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili to be confirmed to lead the World Tourism Organization for another 4 years.

Today was also the day that no country, no delegate, and no insider will be able to question this confirmation hearing since it was fair, secret, and democratic. Only 29 countries voted against his reconfirmation.

This was not only a win for Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili but also for the UN-affiliated agency, for the WTN Decency in Election” campaign, and for the two former UNWTO Secretary Generals – Dr. Taleb Rifai and Francesco Frangialli – who had openly rung the alarm bells in questioning a fair election process for the same agency they served for so many years.

Mr. Pololikashvili won the election, and a hero emerged.

The hero in today’s election was the Hon. Gustav Segura Costa Sancho, Minister of Tourism for Costa Rica, made a fair election possible. On behalf of Costa Rica, he requested a much-needed secret vote to validate and seal whatever the outcome would have been in today’s procedure. Without a secret election, a dark cloud of manipulation would have remained over this process for the next four years.

Any suspicion of such manipulation has now been washed away. The Secretary-General in his second term can fully concentrate on leading tourism for all member countries.

He won’t have a special obligation to countries belonging to the executive council. There won’t be another election. His position is now secure and sealed until the end of his second term. He can now concentrate on leading global tourism through the enormous challenges this sector is facing.

This is a win for global tourism in general.

It will also help the Secretary-General to build his legacy. Rumors are that his plan is to run for Prime Minister of Georgia after his UNWTO term is over.

So today was a win/win/win/win day for global tourism. It’s now appropriate to not only congratulate Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili for having won a fair and secret election, but it’s time for everyone in global tourism to work with UNWTO.

Within the world of winners, there is also a world of those that made empty commitments. At least 35 countries that had confirmed behind the scenes to do one action, ended up doing the opposite. Perhaps this can be called “politics,” and politics unfortunately IS often based on smoke and empty promises. This doesn’t seem to be different in most sectors, countries, or affiliations.

Juergen Steinmetz of eTurboNews, and chair of the World Tourism Network, feel that a big burden has been lifted from the tourism sector today. It’s time to put differences and criticism behind us and help UNWTO to remain on track for the good of world tourism.

Mr. Pololikashvili said: “In every global region, the pandemic has made clear the importance of our sector – for economic growth, for jobs and trade, and for protecting natural and cultural heritage. We must make the most of this opportunity – to transform goodwill into concrete support.”

Steinmetz agreed and offered Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili and UNWTO his full support and cooperation.

“For many tourism-dependent countries, having a united global voice, and coordinated activities can be a giant step forward for such economies”, Steinmetz concluded.

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