MADRID: Is this a good or a sad day for World Tourism? The large camp attending the Executive Council in Madrid from Georgia obviously is having a great day.
Zurab Pololikashvili, the Candidate for the UNWTO Secretary General from Georgia was elected this afternoon as the next Secretary-General. He received 18 votes in the second round in Madrid today. In the first round, Georgia had 8 votes, Walter Mzembi from Zimbabwe 11 votes.
One can only congratulate the prime minister of Georgia for his support. The Georgian ambassador in Madrid almost appeared to be on the sideline during the campaign.
This election result may not have been the best candidate, but about international politics and deals in return for favors.
After his victory, Zurab Pololikashvili was seen drinking champagne with his team. He did not attend the press conference with Taleb Rifai after the election. During his campaign, there was no media outreach, and the candidate was absent from most international events. For most of us in the press, Mr. Pololikashvili remains a no-one.
The secretary general-elect related a message to all candidates after his inauguration and offered to work with them in the future.
Plan B for defeated candidates would be to contest the election at the upcoming General Assembly in China?
In such a case 2/3 of all member countries have to confirm the recommendation of the executive council.
Taleb Rifai said at the press conference today he knew Zurab for many years. He called him a good man capable of doing the job. He cited his experience as the former minister of tourism for Georgia. He ended in saying democracy had spoken.
The secretary general also said. There were two criterions for the vote:
1) The character, vision, and knowledge of a candidate.
2) The country this candidate represents and its standing in the world.
It appears this type of “democracy” may be controlled actually by the foreign ministries or heads of state and not the tourism ministers or tourism representatives in many voting countries.
Bilateral deals are cut by foreign ministers or heads of state and are often unrelated to travel and tourism.
A voting executive council member actually not only has a responsibility to its own nation, but to 4 other countries. There is 1 executive member for every 5 UNWTO member countries. Perhaps such an important decision should only be made by the full general assembly of the UNWTO.
Our largest industry, travel & tourism is too important to be dealt with on a sideline.