Today, the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) recommended Georgia’s representative Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili to be the organization’s next Secretary General, beating out the candidate from Zimbabwe.
There are some serious concerns that must be voiced about this result. First, there are allegations that the Georgian government struck deals with other governments to barter votes (CNN cannot confirm these allegations). Secondly, the candidate did not take part in any debates or interviews to set out publicly his position on tourism issues. We invited him numerous times to come on Quest Means Business, and were refused.
Under its current head Taleb Rifai, the UNWTO has become relevant in the world of tourism. Dr Rifai has given tourism the profile it deserves as the world’s largest industry. That is now at risk.
Pololikashvili’s appointment needs to be confirmed by the UN General Assembly, which should do so only after it has looked into the allegations and its members are satisfied that everything in this election was above board. This is as much for Polokashvili’s future credibility, if confirmed. The last thing he needs is his tenure starting under a cloud of allegations and scandal.
The future relevance of the UNWTO demands nothing less.