The General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization 2019 just concluded in St. Petersburg, Russia. The event is expected to become the most controversial and restricted general assembly in the history of this special agency of the United Nations.
A long-serving delegate on the ministerial level from a western European country had this feedback for eTurboNews:
“I participated in the UNWTO General Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia last week. The UNWTO is completely changing under Zurab and the last general assembly was very different from previous ones.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili summarized all business in one and a half-day. It has been a tradition for ministers from member countries to speak. It was always routine at all previous assemblies and expected by all ministers. This time it was not allowed for any ministers to get the floor for the 5 minutes, usually allocated. This was completely ignored and no discussion about pressing issues on UNWTO was possible.
UNWTO organized a forum on different issues relevant to the private industry and had a ministerial debate on it. It included a wide range of presentation made by private companies. These companies were engaged by the secretariat presenting project studies. No serious discussion between the members states took place.
Many were looking forward to listen to Gloria Guevara, the president of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC
), who attended. To her own surprise, she was not invited to address the assembly.
Who was allowed to address the general assembly was legal advisor Alicia Gomez. She made clear criticism of the UNWTO is no longer allowed and said she will sue the media that are offending the organization with fake news. Gomez did not mention your name or your publication but of course, everybody understood that eTurboNews was the target of her threat
Most of the delegations to whom I spoke were not very happy with this new trend of the organization. It was totally different from the behavior and from the leadership of the past Secretary-General Dr.Taleb Rifai , who was by the way not invited to attend.