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No Changes at UNWTO: Zurab Pololikashvili Confirmed as Secretary-General 2022-2025

Minsters of Tourism and Delegates representing more than 130 countries became the jury in Madrid today in deciding if the current secretary general of this UN Affiliated Agency will continue to lead it for the next 4 years.

The word in the most controversial election process in the history of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), or perhaps the most controversial vote in the United Nations system concluded in Madrid Spain just about 7.00 pm local time, what is minutes ago.

After 30 countries called to endorse the decision of the UNWTO Executive Council to reconfirm the current UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili for a second term, and after Costa Rica requested a secret vote to give such a decision more weight, this decision was made today in an extended session this afternoon.

Both previous Secretary-General of the UNWTO openly lobbied against the confirmation in the World Tourism Network Decency of Election Campaign and numerous open letters.

Today Mr. Pololikashvili was confirmed. 85 countries voted for him, 29 countries voted against him.

Zurab Pololikashvili is a Georgian politician and diplomat, currently serving as Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization. From 2005 to 2009 he was Georgian deputy Foreign Minister, and he served as ambassador to Spain, Morocco, Algeria, and Andorra.

The Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization – UNWTO held its 113th edition in Spain under the aegis of His Majesty King Felipe VI in January voted for the re-election for the incumbent Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. He was re-elected for a second term (2022-2025). 

For the inauguration King Felipe VI was accompanied by the President of the National Heritage Board of Directors, Llanos Castellanos; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto; the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Aziz Abdukhakimov; the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida; the Secretary of State for Global Spain, Manuel Muñiz; the Secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdés; and a plethora of delegations. 

Zurab Pololikashvili (born in Tbilisi on 12 January 1977) is a Georgian national at the helm of the UNWTO since 1 January 2018. Previously he served as Georgia’s resident ambassador in Spain with co-accreditations to Andorra, Morocco, and Algeria. Besides his native Georgian, he is fluent in four out of five official languages in the UNWTO, all except Arabic. 

Zurab needed 2/3rd of the vote at the ongoing UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid to be confirmed.

World Tourism Network Chairman and eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz says: “UNWTO member States have spoken. I think we have winners tonight. This was a fair vote tonight. World Tourism Network was fighting to have this fair vote, and it concluded. “

“It’s now time to work with UNWTO and legitimate leadership. We’re looking forward to this. “

“The World Tourism Network is ready to be another important voice in leading the global tourism industry, and we’re ready to work with UNWTO on relevant issues.”

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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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