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December 15, 2017

3% for the confirmation of Zurab Pololikashvili as UNWTO Secretary General


Tourism government for the people and by the people. This is what many tourism stakeholders think. They think the government is an elected mirror of the people and are elected by the people. In this case, the people are private stakeholders in the global travel and tourism industry, the governments are the countries representations, often ministers of tourism.

In reality, this may be very different in the world and structure of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The opinion of the private people, the private tourism business owners have no influence on their government representatives according to the response by  Henryk Handszuh,  representing  UNWTO Affiliate Member Katowice School of Economics in Poland. When giving his recommendation for UNWTO Secretary General nominee Georgian Zurab Pololikashvili he explains why. Handszuh was one of the 101 responding to WorldTourism Wire UNWTO Secretary Election survey.

Mr. Handszuh was also one out of 3 responses received by this publication endorsing Zurab for the post he was nominated for on May 12 by the UNWTO Executive Council in Madrid.

Handszuh explains why the opinions of the private sector, whether being part of Affiliate Membership or not have no influence on the election of a new UNWTO Secretary General. His line of thoughts may explain a lot how some in this organization think.

Mr. Handszuh states: The credentials of the Executive Council’s present nominee for the post include those of a former deputy minister of foreign affairs and minister of economic development (of which “tourism”), experience in finance and knowledge of world languages, as well as those of a diplomat/ambassador in important capitals (presently also a permanent representative to UNWTO at Headquarters enabling him to have a closer look at the UNWTO affairs day-by-day). Governments will therefore decide whether these credentials are good enough.

Alongside being a specialized agency of the United Nations, UNWTO is “an international of intergovernmental character”, therefore its Secretary-General`s role is not “to lead world tourism” (impossible), but to listen to governments and pay attention to the issues where governments can intervene, in an agreed and concerted manner, with a view to accomplishing the aims set forth for in Article. 3 of the Organization’s Statutes. The Secretary-General`s post will therefore be decided by member States` governments, not by the opinions of the private sector, whether being part of Affiliate Membership or not.

Keeping this in mind the result of the WorldTourismWire survey had one more endorsement for Zurab from the U.K. and one from the USA (both are not UNWTO member countries)

Major tourism stakeholders from the following countries are strongly opposed to confirm nominee Zurab in Chengdu China and appoint him as the next Secretary General of UNWTO in September.

a BIG NO was received from Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, East Timor, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tanzania. Turkey, Uganda, UK, USA, Zambia, Zimbabwe

A minister of tourism from an important Caribbean Country did not want to be identified and states:
Based on what is reported: this man is not qualified to represent nations in tourism matters, it seems he has no experience or sentiment for the sector. Additionally, his route to this position seems fraught with unethical and corrupt practices. Certainly, someone like this could not dispense justice or be a fair and objective participant in the process of leadership or management. My country will not vote to confirm

Barbara Perez from Cuba summarized her concern.:
-I want a candidate to have
-Master or PHD ( Tourism related)
– Experience in tourism sector
– Experience in UNWTO ( member for st least 5 years)
– Eloquent
– Been a member of the Executive Council
– Been active and contributing in UNWTOmeetinggs
– Knowledgeable on the 6 commission and its challenges

The election conducted in Madrid where flawed:
– no discussion of the candidates where conducted according to country delegates insite the room ,
– Some candidate where under prejudice just before election.
– The SG elect was connected to the proceedings insite the room by skype .
– The SG elect only in 2016 presented

Melanie Kumar from India writes:

He should have global standing with sufficient experience in tourism. Most importantly he should be be able to carry all member countries along with him. It is very clear that Ambassador Zurab has been pushed into the post by vested interests without proper voting procedures being followed. Free and fair elections should be held again to upheld the democratic reputation of the UNWTO. Hope that good sense will prevail. May the best woman /man lead UNWTO from 1st January 2018.

Stephen Richter, director of SKAL USA wants the current Secretary General’s term to be extended, and have the election redone within two years from scratch.

Tourism Consultant Max Haberstroh from Germany wants a future Secretary General to have:
– Intercultural sense of a World Citizen (multilingual)
– Visionary, strategic and executive management
– Strong Leadership & Team enhancement (Capacity Building), Motivation
– Creativity, Hands-on approach, negotiation strength, building consensus for large-scale change on political, economic, social and environmental (incl. climate change) platforms
– Cross-sector outreach (for instance: sustainable tourism & renewable energy) and strong integration capabilities
– Branding: Creating the ‘World Tourism Brand’  and giving sustainability a face.
– Strong business and marketing acumen
– Organizational talent
– Event orchestration
– Good recognition/reputation within the Travel & Tourism (public and private business sectors)

The future UNWTO Secretary General should be able to provide the weight Travel & Tourism (T&T) deserves, towards governments, other government or NGO bodies, and industry sectors, and in the light of T&T’s self-proclaimed role as the outspoken ‘peace industry’.

Mariana Novelli, a professor at the University of Brighton writes:
There is a growing number of a possible candidate with PhD in a relevant subject, but a Master and considerable experience in the travel and tourism sector, as well as adequate diplomatic skills, is what is required for the job.

I was extremely shocked when the news was announced and frankly even more shocked when the rumors about corruption and payment made to secure the job made me even more uncomfortable about the entire process and results.

My immediate thought was: ‘here we are this is just like the big scandal with UEFA and all that happens in football…’ I started questioning the credibility of UNWTO and questioning the future of the organisation in the hands of somebody who has barely any experience in tourism or made any effort to make himself known to the industry!

Judy Karwacki of Small Planet Consulting says:  I want a Secretary General has a long involvement in international tourism, Passion for sustainable development through tourism, and he needs to operate with the highest integrity. The current nominee seems to be buying votes and this is not acceptable.

The election conducted in Madrid where flawed:
– no discussion of the candidates where conducted according to country delegates insite the room ,
– Some candidate where under prejudice just before election.
– The SG elect was connected to the proceedings insite the room by skype .
– The SG elect only in 2016 presented

 

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