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September 15, 2019

UNWTO Election: A second open letter from Cairo expanding the movement against Zurab Pololikashvili

On May 1, 2017 eTN publisher Juergen T Steinmetz circulated an open letter asking if the UNWTO Election was for sale?
Four days later he continued: Silence is not always golden.  This was the day this movement started.
When this movement started there was no corruption allegation yet, there was also no allegation of a “flawed” process.

Steinmetz says: It’s about assuring the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has a qualified fairly elected successor to the highly respected current secretary general Taleb Rifai when leaves his post the end of 2017.

Taleb Rifai declared on election day May 12 :  “I am proud of all candidates.”   and the same day Steinmetz had a  Question to you? UNWTO Election – is there a problem?   
The problem was a football game candidate Zurab Pololikashvili invited voting delegates to attend with him two nights before the election. The Kenya minister was caught right handed when posting a picture of his ticket and himself visiting the game on Facebook.

When more and more details emerged the Hon. Walter Mzembi from Zimbabwe who was number two in the election broke the silence and took his  gloves off.  Our article entitled: “The Hon. Dr. Walter Mzembi takes on UNWTO Election ”  had record openings. On June 13 the Zimbabwe Minister filed his position paper on what he called “flawed” UNWTO election process. His intervention was not yet responded to by the UNWTO leadership.

In the meantime, the movement continues. It expanded to many corners of this world. Mainstream newspapers are reaching out to learn more. Trade publication in Switzerland, Germany, USA and now

In Uruguay, Passaporte news translated the eTN article on the football game into Spanish and added their own spin to it.







In Egypt Ashraf El Gedawy, publisher of Arab Tourism Portal News in Cairo  printed his own open letter.
This is a transcript of his letter. eTN did not edit the transcript since it was taken directly from Arab Tourism Portal News English translation edition.
The original article was published in Arabic.



TRANSCRIPT (not edited):
Almasalla-Cairo-  Perhaps the farce of the last election in May for the post of Secretary General of the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), and its disappointing results, came with a number of facts revealing the size of the slack, and the bureaucracy that is nestled within this large professional institution.

UNWTO is a very professional UN Organisation when dealing with issues on an International scale. They are indeed respected when speaking about international tourism and its impact on Member States, and they are heard when giving recommendations on Member State services and when they are working to open up the way for Member States and helping them to promote through specific programs.

The UNWTO is always present as the support for the tourism industry of Member States, and have also provided professional experts when the global slowdown in tourism was apparent in order to help those developing and poorer countries to use their natural, archaeological and historical resources to create unique tourism products capable of helping to modernize these countries tourism appeal, and to help promote them through a strong and youthful tourism industry to achieve the required economic development.

The UNWTO’s assistance was always seen as a step towards the sustainable integrated development of small and developing countries. This was always welcomed advice because tourism can be a great world to stay in for the powerful because the acronym of “the big fish eat the little” is too often an accepted practice.

Perhaps some are now puzzled because the writer of the article describes the organization with the bureaucracy and slack and at the same time praises its positive role in the development of tourism industry in different countries of the world ..!

In fact, there is no dispute over the importance of the organization and its developmental role to stand next to the member states and its diverse activities to establish tourism as a powerful international industry that stands side by side with the automobile, arms and pharmaceutical industries.

But the slack, disappointment and bureaucracy that hit the offices of the Organization speaks for itself in the form of the recent elections for the post of Secretary General … This is a major disaster that occurred on the head of the Organization in the absence of standards and professional requirements for this high-level position and the matter .. For information here do not blame on Secretary-General of the current organization Dr. Taleb Rifai, who achieved in the first and second mandate at the head of the Organization a lot of excellent achievements for the Member States and for the world tourism. To try to compile the narratives now, as a journalist I see the size of the achievements of the Organization on the ground, as well as the interaction with International media on the issues of the global tourism industry.

Taleb Rifai, the Jordanian Secretary General served diligently when he was in charge of this world body. For “Rifai” it was always organize visits of member states as “home from home” as the secretary general of the Tourism Organization and he said that in his remarks to the people of the tourism industry in all international events.

It is fair to say that the regulations, requirements and standards that were chosen by the secretary-general of the Tourism Organization were in the past quite valid when the organization was established at the beginning, but with the natural development and emergence of modern management sciences, human resources sciences. The rules and criteria for the selection of the Secretary General of the Organization of Tourism is old and outdated and is not valid for the current time .. Exactly as the engineer puts a 1949 engine in a a car model 2017 ..!

It is unacceptable, unfair, and unreasonable that an ambassador of a country with no relation to the industry should come forward to compete for the high post in the recent elections. As some have written in the international press, “this ambassador has suspicious and strange relations” with ministers and tourism officials from the members of the organization that helped him to form a lobby that enabled him to pass the election and succeed in it.

In this last election he won over four tourism ministers and a high-ranking official from the organization itself who was the Number 2 man after the secretary-general. After the departure of the candidate of Seychelles, the former Minister of Tourism, Alain Saint Ange, who was instrumental in delivering a tourism industry of a high-level model for his country. Seychelles can only be seen and appreciated by the famous and rich.. but that tourism Minister turned Seychelles from just a tropical island to “the sought after paradise of God on the earth.”

It is strange and exciting that the member countries of the World Tourism Organization since the last elections in May did not move even with the flood of media criticism of the elections also echoed by the international press that said that the result was disappointing.

We had an ambassador not specialized at all in the tourism sector, and all his relationship to tourism is to stay in tourist resorts will be the next secretary General of the World Tourism Organization ..?!

The Secretary General must today be a tourism professional and from a country seen as a leader in tourism. Gone are the days when just anyone can occupy this high office. Also a Minister from a Government or country that is under scrutiny cannot lead the world. That cannot be difficult to see and understand. make your country work before you try to lead the world and understand tourism before you want to lead the tourism industry.

As if the “member states” of the organisation analyse the elections and blame all the blame on these ministers and experts who were present in Madrid, t is today necessary to move a lobby of them to move those stagnant water, and the rapid formation of a high-level committee to establish new technical controls and standards for the selection of Secretary General of the Organization of Tourism. The controls that were valid in 1990 are not valid at all in 2017.


Of course, I can not blame the secretary general of the organization today, nor ask him to prepare new criteria for the new candidate, because the issue is very sensitive at this time, and he should have been aware of this since the first year of assuming his duties and open the debate on this important issue with Ministers from Member countries and organizations of the World Tourism Organization, to come out with a decision to amend the controls, conditions and standards, but as “Rifai” today leaves his papers and packs his belongings to leave the corridors of the organization in Spain the organisation with have a non tourism person and nearly had one from another bankrupt country facing sanctions from greater Europe .


The Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), which has more than 33 members elected by the General Assembly with one member out of five active members of some 156 member states, should take a decision quickly to set new benchmarks for the post of secretary general, And opened the door once more to advance to those who wish to be experts and experts for this important and dangerous job of the global tourism industry in the future of the days.

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