Georgian Zurab Pololikashvili has emerged as the new United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO], Secretary General, following his victory at the 105th Executive Meeting/Election for a successor to Taleb Rafai whose tenure ends in December 2017 held between May 11 -12, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.
Before the election proper, the meeting focused on current trends and challenges facing the tourism sector and on the three priorities of the Organization – safe, secure and seamless travel; the impact of technology in the tourism sector and sustainability.
The Executive Council, attended by some 250 representatives from 59 countries, focused on these priorities as well as on the UNWTO programme of work for 2018-2019 and the agenda of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.
The 105th session of the UNWTO Executive Council also recommended Zurab Pololikashvili, from Georgia, as the nominee for the post of Secretary General for the four-year-period starting January 2018.
Zurab beat Zimbabwe’s Walter Mzambi who was African Union [AU] endorsed candidate in the second with just three votes and would be presented to the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly for ratification come September 11-16, 2017, Chengu, China.
“We predict that 1.8 billion international tourists will travel across borders by 2030. We must ensure that such growth goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. We must embrace the opportunities created by innovation and new technologies.
We must continue to make travel safer, but also more seamless and accessible for all. And we must ensure that our sector serves the planet as well as its people” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the meeting.
“UNWTO is a privileged forum where all countries discuss the main challenges facing our sector, share experiences and build common solutions. Tourism is about building bridges” said the Secretary of State of Tourism of Spain, Matilde Asian.
The Chair of the Council, the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, Abulfas Garayev, recalled the importance of the declaration by the United Nations General Assembly of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development “This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision makers and the public, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change”, he said.
The 106th and 107th sessions of the UNWTO Executive Council will take place in September 2017 in Chengdu, China in the framework of the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly.