UN Tourism: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanches Not Happy

UN Tourism
UNWTO becomes UN Tourism

UNWTO is now UN Tourism, a new branding, designed to help the Secretary General to stay in power for a third term – or better a first term in the newly branded UN Tourism organization.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón is not very happy with UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, triggering the SG to contemplate changing the host country for the UN-affiliated agency from Spain.

This was confidential feedback by a high-ranking official familiar with UNWTO, UN Tourism, and the relationship between the Government of Spain and UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili particularly.

The traditional cocktail every year at the ongoing FITUR trade show in Madrid hosted by both UNWTO and its host country Spain did not happen this year.

Relations between UNWTO and Spain saw better times before COVID:

Former UNWTO Assistant Secretary General Professor Geoffrey Lipman said: “This is good” when he commented on the name change announced by UNWTO. The new name for UNWTO is now UN Tourism.

A prominent former tourism minister who was heading the UNWTO Executive Council in the past told eTurboNews: “Why change the name and why now? Is it a strategy to ask for a third term for the Secretary-General?”

The former minister was referring to the UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili having changed the rule of procedures at the last UNWTO General Assembly in Uzbekistan, allowing him to run for a third term, or better now for a first term under the UN Tourism Brand.

The name change makes no difference to how it is seen. The leaders make the difference. This was the comment by Alain St. Ange, former candidate for UNWTO Secretary General and Minister of Tourism Seychelles.

Another former candidate, a foreign minister and long-serving tourism minister for Zimbabwe, Dr. Walter Mzembi said: Ok that’s interesting. It has always been UN Tourism anyway what is the significance of christening an acronym? It doesn’t change the quality of work.

His opinion mirrors the comments received by many familiar with the third change of name for the United Nations-affiliated agency in charge of tourism.

A change of name is just changing one’s clothes and not one’s habits. Global tourism needs a new identity, a non-partisan vision, and a restructuring that takes into account all components of communities and states.
Faouzou Déme Héros mondial du tourisme WTTN, Senegal

Lucky George, head of the African Travel Commission noticed this is now the third time this organization is changing names. It started with The International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO) held its XIVth World Tourist Conference in Manila from 18 to 26 November 1959. The change from the World Tourism Organization (WTN) to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) took 17 years. It became necessary to eliminate the confusion with the World Trade Organization.

German tourism expert and publisher of the World Tourism Directory asked if this would trigger the World Health Organization WHO also change into “UN Health” or the FAO into “UN Food and Agriculture” and UNICEF into “UN Children”? 

If this happens, it would be very good news for the high-priced Interbrand agency, the branding company UNWTO hired to facilitate the change. Thanks to a generous Saudi Tourism Minister, UNWTO was no longer in debt able to afford this re-branding expense.

UN Tourism had this to say in its press release on Tuesday during the ongoing FITUR travel show in Madrid:

UN Tourism Press Release on why UNWTO changed its name

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) enters a new era today with a new name and brand: UN Tourism. With this new brand, the Organization reaffirms its status as the United Nations specialized agency for tourism and the global leader of tourism for development, driving social and economic change to ensure that “people and planet” are always center stage.

To achieve this goal, UN Tourism engaged the services of Interbrand, the leading global branding agency. Interbrand successfully translated the Organization’s renewed vision for tourism into a new visual identity and brand narrative.

This involved renaming the Organization and transitioning from UNWTO to UN Tourism. At the same time, a new brand narrative was meticulously crafted, one that seamlessly aligns with UN Tourism’s central mission and priorities. This narrative pivots around three main messages: the UN as a global altruistic organization, the notion of connecting humans around the world, and the concept of proactivity and movement.

By moving away from acronyms, UN Tourism adopts a more approachable stance and capitalizes on its strengths: the “UN”, signifying authority, and tourism, a simple and relatable concept for all. This change has been endorsed by the Organization’s membership, highlighting its united support for the profound transformation and reinvention of UN Tourism in recent years, as it has become more agile, visible, and ever closer to its Member States, partners and the sector as a whole. 

With 160 Member States and hundreds of private sector affiliates, UN Tourism has its headquarters in Madrid, Spain, and Regional Offices in Nara (Japan) covering Asia & Pacific, Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) for the Middle East, as well as forthcoming Regional Offices for the Americas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and Africa (Morocco). Its priorities center on promoting tourism for sustainable development in line with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Global Goals. UN Tourism promotes quality education, supports decent jobs in the sector, identifies talent drives innovation, and accelerates tourism climate action and sustainability with:

  • Member States – both as recipients of its services, and assistance and as active stakeholders in the Organization’s Programme of Work.
  • Individuals – specifically travelers and local communities whose lives flourish through the empowerment of the economy through tourism.
  • Private, semi-private, and public organizations – all engaging with UN Tourism’s work, including its data and insights, events, and products.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UN Tourism, said: “As society progresses, the tourism sector, much like many other sectors, needs to transform to serve as a catalyst for prosperity at a universal scale. Enhancing the well-being of individuals, safeguarding the natural environment, stimulating economic advancement, and fostering international harmony are key goals that are the fundamental essence of UN Tourism. The organization takes on the role of driving a sustainable force that is now central to many economies.”

Borja Borrero, Executive Director at Interbrand, said: “Transitioning from UNWTO to UN Tourism marks a significant new phase for the organization. The revised nomenclature offers several advantages, including simplicity, enhanced comprehension, improved legibility and memorability. It also serves to clarify the agency’s sphere of influence within the global tourism industry. The new elements of the brand are the foundations of a distinct and proprietary image – one that is direct, relatable, and relevant for diverse audiences.”

The new brand expression is not only limited to words and messages but also expands into a reinvented visual discourse. UN Tourism has a new design language starting from its symbol. “Bringing the world closer” is the new tagline that inspires the concept of a Pangea shaping a human figure in action.  This drastic evolution from the former global symbols reflects the Organization’s emphasis on the dynamic nature of tourism and on putting people first.

Beyond the symbol, the rebrand also includes a revamp of the entire visual system, which is now based on a grid of geographical coordinates meant to help people navigate the brand’s touchpoints, both offline and online, such as events, website, reports, social media channels, and campaigns. This system unlocks a rich universe of elements including imagery, fonts, colors, and pictograms all designed to personalize social media campaigns, events, posts, and videos.

The new brand will be gradually implemented across all UN Tourism touchpoints over the next few months, beginning with digital channels such as the website, social media accounts, and newsletters, followed by physical spaces such as offices and events, and elements such as reports and stationery.

WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE:

  • The former minister was referring to the UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili having changed the rule of procedures at the last UNWTO General Assembly in Uzbekistan, allowing him to run for a third term, or better now for a first term under the UN Tourism Brand.
  • With this new brand, the Organization reaffirms its status as the United Nations specialized agency for tourism and the global leader of tourism for development, driving social and economic change to ensure that “people and planet” are always center stage.
  • This was confidential feedback by a high-ranking official familiar with UNWTO, UN Tourism, and the relationship between the Government of Spain and UN Tourism Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili particularly.

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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