UNWTO members: Is Georgia’s nominee qualified to honorably lead the UNWTO?

Zurab Pololikashvili, Georgia's ambassador to Spain who was nominated for the prestigious post of UNWTO Secretary General
Zurab Pololikashvili, Georgia’s ambassador to Spain who was nominated for the prestigious post of UNWTO Secretary General

It’s no longer just about the man who started it or the country he represents, it’s slowly becoming a global movement in the travel and tourism industry.  Even though the United Nations World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) says there are no issues, many think UNWTO election irregularities and manipulation generated escalating concern for the global travel and tourism industry.

Even the minister from Zimbabwe who started this movement admitted it’s not about him at this point: “All Candidates, with the exception of the elected nominee, are highly qualified to honorably lead the UNWTO.” The Hon. Dr Walter Mzembi, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry took his gloves off this week when he issued an open letter  and a detailed list of issues  (Position Paper) related to the what he called flawed recent United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General election in Madrid. Recommended and now the nominee for the highest post in Tourism is Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili from Georgia. His nomination has been in the spotlight and is viewed in critical terms by many. Importantly, Dr Mzembi presented not only his case demonstrating flaws in the recent election, but he showed remedial solutions for the UNWTO General Assembly confirmation vote. The UNWTO General Assembly (GA) will take place September 11-16, 2017 in Chengdu, China.  The nominee from Georgia will need two thirds of the attending member countries to confirm the recommendation by the Executive Council (EC). Many say it may be the first time in the history of UNWTO, for the GA not to confirm a candidate recommended by the EC.

Taking the protest in his hand, Dr Mzembi is doing what he does best, demonstrating leadership in a climate of apprehension by speaking thoughtfully about the recent UNWTO election travesty. eTN has received an enormous response from readers, many top travel and tourism industry leaders. Every single response was supportive of the initiative started by Dr. Mzembi, but many weren’t ready to go public yet. Some did go public, however, among them Louis D’Amore, founder, and president of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism. He  told eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz: “You are providing a great service to the tourism industry and most of all, to the UN system itself.”

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