The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has re-elected Zurab Pololikashvili to the role of general secretary of the organisation. He will serve a second four-year term, from 2022-2025. Pololikashvili was nominated earlier this year and was endorsed during the annual general assembly of the organisation.
Meeting in Madrid, UNWTO members have strongly aligned themselves behind his leadership and vision for the sector. Meeting in person for the first time in two years, members from every global region approved a ‘Programme of Work’ for the organisation and endorsed key initiatives designed to build a more a resilient, inclusive and sustainable tourism.
The general assembly has brought together more than 1,000 delegates from 135 countries, including 84 ministers of tourism, as well as business leaders, destinations and representatives of key international organisations. Opening the event, Pololikashvili cited the spirit of solidarity and determination that has defined tourism’s response to an unprecedented crisis.
In presenting his report to members, he made clear how a focus on collaboration and harmonisation of protocols, political advocacy and securing financial support for tourism, have help the sector mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and laid the foundations for tourism’s restart in many parts of the country.
Pololikashvili said: “In every global region, the pandemic has made clear the importance of our sector – for economic growth, for jobs and trade, and for protecting natural and cultural heritage. We must make the most of this opportunity – to transform goodwill into concrete support.”
Emphasising the significance of the general assembly, United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, welcomed delegates and called for them to work together for a “green, inclusive, sustainable” future.
Guterres added: “I commend UNWTO and secretary general Pololikashvili and hope the decisions taken at the general assembly will help restore trust in travel and get the world moving safely do developing economies can reap the benefits of sustainable tourism.”
Alongside receiving an updated on UNWTO’s activities since the last general assembly two years ago, members also benefited from a comprehensive overview of the latest tourism trends, as indicated by UNWTO’s latest data, as well as an updated overview of restrictions on travel worldwide.
From the floor of the assembly, members from different global regions expressed their solidarity with countries impacted by the continued imposition of travel restrictions. Pololikashvili is a Georgian politician and diplomat. From 2005-2009, he was Georgian deputy foreign minister, and he served as ambassador to Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Andorra.