- Morocco was supposed to host the UNWTO General Assembly November 28 – December 3, 2021, but canceled due to COVID security. This request may have gotten confused in translation
- It took UNWTO 3 days to inform member states, and within hours after receiving this note, Kenya offered to take the place of Morocco and host the event. Kenya was the number 2 choice in the original discussion 2 years ago.
- The UNWTO Secretary General categorically declined the offer by Kenya.
Several African Tourism Ministers voiced their disappointment with UNWTO’s decision and some indicated that Africa should be upset with the move to block this request to host by an African country.
A disappointed or perhaps even angry Hon. Najib Balala, Secretary of Tourism for Kenya, confirmed, “UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili categorically denied our request to host the General Assembly.” The response from UNWTO was that it was too late, there is not enough time.
Another African minister said, UNWTO is at a weak point and is losing complete confidence in Africa. This is the perfect time to ask the General Assembly for a secret vote to really see if Zurab’s re-election by the executive council should be confirmed.
Another delegate not in Africa said off the record: No one wants him to be re-elected. We have to do everything possible to get rid of him. The time may have come now.
At the General Assembly in Chengdu, China, in 2017, Zurab was confirmed by a proclamation, not by a secret vote. It takes one country to ask for a secret vote.
Many think Zurab would not get the necessary 2/3 majority if there was a secret vote at the next General Assembly.
However, having the General Assembly taking place in Madrid is a big advantage for him. It is expected ministers will not travel to Madrid for the UNWTO General assembly and would be replaced by embassy staff.
Africa has the highest number of UNWTO member states, but not many African countries have embassies in Madrid or the resources to send a tourism minister for this event to Spain.
Zurab Pololikashvili knows his way around the diplomatic community in Madrid. He had been the ambassador for the Republic of Georgia prior to taking over UNWTO.