Shame on UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili



Dr. Taleb Rifai issued a directive before his re-election at the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Livingstone, Victoria Falls in 2014 requiring the Secretary-General to pay for his own travel expenses when visiting countries for his re-election campaign.

According to information received by eTurboNews, the current Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili is most likely not only spending UN money to travel the world during COVID-19 but his main intention is to go on such trips to cement his re-election.

There are 159 member countries in the UNWTO, but only 35 are Executive Council countries are voting for the Secretary-General on January 18/19, 2021

In the last few months, Zurab stepped up his UNWTO paid international travel putting his staff into COVID-19 harm’s way. His exclusive travel destinations: UNWTO Executive Council member countries.

Chile, the chair of the Executive Council is already “fully committed” to the current Secretary-General without having seen presentations by candidates

A well-planned scheme to make it impossible for any candidates to effectively campaign against Zurab was put in place before the last Executive Council meeting 15-17 September , 2020 in Zurab’s home country Georgia.

A concerned Executive Council member delegate told eTurboNews:

In our last meeting held in Georgia we agreed on a tight time table for the upcoming elections of the Secretary General 2021 – 2024. It was agreed, based on the recommendation of the secretariat, that the elections would be held on the 18 of January 2020 instead of May, as has been the case in the past. The main reason for that, being that it would better coincide with Fitur in Madrid, since the regulation states that elections must be held at headquarters, and it was the desire of Spain to do so.

Now, Spain has decided to postpone Fitur till May. This situation should make us reconsider the wisdom of our decision for the following reasons;

  1. The UNWTO has always held the first council of the year in late spring, end of April to May. The reason being that it would give both the secretariat and the Council the opportunity to approve the budget of the previous year 2020 after the auditors finish their work in early April, so it can be submitted to the General Assembly in due time.
  2. The elections require an “in person” meeting and not a virtual one. The rules and regulations governing the election process require that. Especially the principle of secret voting, which would be extremely difficult to maintain in a virtual, on- line meeting.

Therefore, for the reasons above and in order to maintain the correctness and integrity of the election process, I feel UNWTO should immediately move the next meeting of our executive council we’re elections are held , tentatively to May 18 , so we can still coincide with Fitur again. I believe , for fairness to other sthe date for submitting the election sould be moved to May 18.

This concern was related to the Secretary – General.

Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili immediately dismissed this concern, according to eTurbo News sources.

This concern was voiced “off the record” by a number of high profile tourism leaders, but no one wanted to step forward. The reason: “If Zurab gets re-elected we need to maintain our good relationship with UNWTO.” Apparently, this is a vicious circle, and it remains to be seen if any UNWTO Executive Council members are strong enough to make such an official request.

Zurab Pololikashvili may have gotten away with stealing the UNWTO election in 2017. Will the world of tourism allow this to happen a second time? Remember? The promised UNWTO committee to make the election process more transparent and fair was never established. Why?

Zurab Pololikashvili is a master diplomat in his own field. As a former ambassador of Georgia in Madrid, he knows his way around the diplomatic community in Madrid.

He often gave away football tickets to fellow diplomats and is well-liked there. Since it’s unlikely tourism ministers will actually travel to Madrid for the election on January 19 due to COVID-19, they will have to rely on member countries embassy staff to listen to presentations by candidates. Not tourism but the foreign ministries staff will make the decisions for the future of world tourism.