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UNWTO General Assembly now in Madrid: Zurab Pololikashvili is a genius. Will Saudi Arabia react?

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili

The audience for the upcoming UNWTO General Assembly just shifted from ministers to embassies or no-shows today, when the venue shifted from Morocco to Spain.
This is good news for Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, but bad news for world tourism.
Can Saudi Arabia help?

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  • As predicted by eTurboNews and insiders, today the UNWTO made it official.
  • The General Assembly planned for Marrakesh, Morocco from November 30 to December 02 will be on more friendly territory, Madrid, Spain
  • Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili used his influence in familiar Madrid to manipulate. Having a surprise General Assembly in Madrid will seal his election manipulation, he must hope.

Ever since Zurab Pololikashvili from Georgia took the helm of the World Tourism Organization on January 1, 2018, the organization became media hostile. UNWTO turned from an open transparent organization into a dungeon of intrigues, secrets, and silence. Fear for jobs ruled inside the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid, Spain.

Dealing with the biggest crisis this world faced in modern history, UNWTO became unresponsive, unfunctional, except when it benefited the Secretary-General personally.

COVID-19 was so enormous, UNWTO escaped into promoting wine – tourism.

Journalists were waiting outside the UNWTO office at the World Travel Market in 2018 and 2019 only to be told the Secretary-General was unable to attend his own press conference.

At the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference COP 2019 Madrid, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO loved the photo opportunity with heads of state but took off from the venue in a rush to avoid any media questions or other engagements at the event.

At the upcoming 2021 UN Climate Change Conference COP 2021 in Glasgow later this month, the Secretary-General has to show face. He needs to convince countries to re-confirm him as Secretary-General at the General Assembly.

At the upcoming World Travel Market (WTM) 2021, the Secretary-General will be attending the Ministerial roundtable. This is in his own interest just some short weeks before his confirmation. It waits to be seen if he will face journalists at a press conference. No such invitation has been received by eTurboNews yet.

He needs to appear meaningfully engaged. Therefore he is pushing for a PR stand to lead the COP 2021 declaration.

His reconfirmation at the General Assembly in November after the UNWTO Executive Council re-elected him in January just became a lot easier for Zurab.

Having the General Assembly in Madrid is what Zurab wanted all along. Pololikashvili should be congratulated as an excellent political maneuver genius.

It can easily be predicted that after he wins the confirmation hearing at the assembly in Madrid, UNWTO business will be back to normal for him.

Normal means silence, no meaningful engagement, no relevant leadership.

It means avoiding cooperation with WTTC and large private industry, ignoring COVID-19 issues, and a continued focus on his own political ambition to become prime minister of Georgia.

Today the Government of Morocco came to his rescue in cancelling the General Assembly in Marrakesh.
This was predicted by eTurboNews and informed sources for some time.

Note Verbale cirulated to UNWTO Member Countries today (Oct 23,2021)

The Secretariat of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) presents its compliments to the Member of the Organization and has the honor to inform that, in a letter dated 15 October and received at the UNWTO Secretariat on 18 October 2021, the Government of Morocco communicated to the Secretariat that the evolution of the current global situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic does not allow for the holding of the 24th session of the General Assembly in Marrakesh in 2021 on the agreed dates of 30 November – 3 December in such conditions that guarantee the necessary health and security conditions for the participants.

The Secretariat wished to recall that the 24th session of the General Assembly shall meet in 2021 as decided by the General Assembly through resolution 727 (XXIII) at its 23rd session, in accordance with Article 10 of the Statutes and Rule 1.1 of the RUles of Procedure of the General Assembly.

In line with the authority delegated under the Guidelines for the selection of venues for the General Assembly sessions adopted by the General Assembly through resolution 631 (XX), with a view to guaranteeing the continuity of operations of the Organization for the biennium 2022-2023 and the correct functioning of its Organs in compliance with the Statutes, and after consultation with the Chair of the Executive Council and with the Government of Spain, the Secretariat has the pleasure to inform that the 24th session of the General Assembly will be held in Madrid, Spain, Headquarters of the Organization, on the same dates as communicated to all Members of the Organizations, i.e. 30 November to 3 December 2021. The Secretariat will shortly provide all Member States with the relevant information concerning the session.

The Secretariat of the World Tourism Organization avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Member States the assurances of its highest consideration.

Madrid, 23 October 2021

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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