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June 13, 2024

The UNWTO Assembly Rejects a Third Term of the Secretary General

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO

Zurab Pololikashvili, General Secretary, UNWTO

By Newsroom Infobae

The General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) rejected this Wednesday in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) the host country’s proposal to renew, exceptionally, for a third term general secretary, Zurab Pololikashvili, an option that did not have the support of Spain.

The United Nations Tourism Organization, based in Spain, celebrates this week its XXV General Assembly – its highest decision-making body – in this Uzbek city, with the attendance of ministers and high-level representatives from 117 countries, 70 of them with ministerial level representation.

The third term for Pololikashvili, starting in 2026, was supported by 65 countries and rejected by 35, but he did not obtain the two-thirds of the votes cast that were necessary to carry it forward, as sources close to the Assembly explained to EFE.

The proposal to raise the renewal for one more term of the Georgian Pololikashvili to the highest governing body of the UNWTO was approved in the Executive Council, held this Tuesday, by 19 votes in favor, 12 against and one abstention.

The current secretary general is in the middle of his second term, which expires in December 2025, so the renewal would have placed him in the position until the end of 2029.

The Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, Rosana Murillo, has avoided confirming Spain’s position, “because the Council’s deliberations are secret” but has assured that, in 2005, the decision was taken to limit the mandates to two “and Spain has to be consistent with that decision,” he said in statements to EFE.

He has defended that it is not “a personal matter”, since Spain “appreciates the performance, dedication and commitment” of Pololikashvili, but understands that the organization must accommodate in its top positions “countries that are not so developed and with different geographic sensitivities. “Why not a secretary of Latin America?” he asked.

Assembly sources highlight the practically unanimous support expressed for the work of the current secretary general, in which the territorial and thematic openness of the organization stands out.

Since its creation in 1975 and the location of the world headquarters in Spain the following year, the UNWTO has had six secretaries general, including the current one, of which two, both French (Robert Lonati and Francesco Frangialli), served for three terms .

Among the strategic objectives, the organization – to which the United States does not belong – seeks to incorporate new members and will give priority to the Anglo-Saxon, Nordic and Baltic states of Europe, America and East Asia and the Pacific, as well as the Small Island States in Development (SIDS) of the Caribbean and the Pacific.

In fact, at this meeting in Samarkand the organization welcomed Belize as a new member state, now numbering 160.

Likewise, the UNWTO aims to strengthen its position as a tourism leader, which is being worked on by a group co-led by Spain and Saudi Arabia, together with the Secretary General, and to extend the network of regional and thematic offices in different places.

Thus, it will open new regional offices in Brazil and Morocco, which will add to the two that are already active in Nara (Japan) and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and advance to have more presence on the ground in Argentina, China, India and Uzbekistan .

The secretary general has announced that the organization’s first International Conference on tourism law will be held in Salamanca in November and has announced that 15 countries have adhered to the International Code for the Protection of Tourists and are working to turn it into national law.

Likewise, it aspires to have the best tourism database in the world by modernizing its data panels, which currently host more than 150 statistics. EFECOM

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