US President Donald Trump tried and lost. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili is trying hard now and will most likely get away with it – election manipulation that is. “He is a smart man”, was the response by a tourism leader in a recent eTN survey, refering to Zurab.
Tourist professionals will most likely not storm the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid like misguided voters did yesterday in the US capital city Washington DC forcing their way into the US Capitol.
Unfortunately, those employed in travel and tourism have no say. Ministers of tourism are voting. However, only one-fifth of the UNWTO member countries are allowed to vote. They remain quiet, and the reason is manipulation.
Countries remain quiet, because UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, had concentrated in the last 3 years on just 35 countries, ignoring 80% of the UNWTO member nations.
These 35 “super” countries have the power. 35 countries form the executive council. They are allowed to vote in the upcoming Secretary-General elections. UNWTO Secretary-General wants to be re-elected by any price. He also hates competition.
This month borders are closed, a new deadly strain of Coronavirus is spreading also in Spain.
UNWTO however makes it mandatory for tourism ministers of the 35 voting countries to personally travel to Madrid on January 18, 2021, if they want to have a say in the 2022 Secretary-General elections.
Right now the current SG Zurab Pololiokashvili from Georgia and Her Excellency Sheika Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khailfa from Bahrain are competing for the post. The Bahrain candidate has to charter a private jet to get to Madrid.
Zurab did everything he could to make it difficult for any competitor to come on board. He shortened the window instead of allowing a longer window due to COVID-19.
Six other countries wanted to compete in the election for Secretary-General and submitted papers. Zurab’s secretariat rejected them, claiming the applications were incomplete The 6 names and the 6 countries that wanted to compete with Mr. Zurab were never released. Only Bahrain managed to get papers submitted correctly.
Campaign for a new candidate is absolutely impossible in the time window provided. Zurab knows this, because it’s part of his game to manipulate.
The situation caused two former UNWTO secretary-general (Dr. Taleb Rifai and Francesco Frangialli , a former Assistant SG Dr. Geoffrey Lipman, a former UNWTO executive director Carlos Vogeler) to join the World Tourism Network in its call for decency in the UNWTO election.
An open letter was published by eTurboNews on December 11.
UNWTO never responded to the letter. No country stood up and took a stand, or even responded. The UN headquarters in New York did not acknowledge receipt of the delivered petition. The holiday season was sometimes blamed.
Should Zurab win the election on January 18, it would certainly be a very sad day for World Tourism. It would be a bad mark on the integrity of the 35 UNWTO Executive Council member countries.
eTurboNews received a copy of a smear letter Zurab apparently has been circulating to voting ministers of tourism. This letter is circulated by a hired mob with the only purpose to manipulate the election and attack the candidate from the Kingdom of Bahrain.
In the meantime, Zurab had been using UNWTO funds to travel the world on official business. In reality, he was traveling to campaign for himself, promising high-level positions in his administration or UNWTO offices in countries in exchange for votes.
Politics are dirty, not only in the US White House, but also in the UNWTO.