Taleb Rifai, during his speech, with Mikheil Janelidze to his left and Zurab Pololikashvili to his right./ Photo: A.R.
Alberto Rubio. 14/12/2016
On Monday, Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Mikheil Janelidze, proposed the ambassador to Spain, Zurab Pololikashvili, as candidate for the General Secretariat of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), during a reception celebrated at the Ritz Hotel.
The event was attended by many ambassadors and the management of the UNWTO led by its secretary general, Taleb Rifai, who will leave the position next year and who was glad about the candidature of Ambassador Pololikashvili, since “Georgia is, without a doubt, one of the countries the most committed to world tourism and it is a real pleasure to have worked in that sense with the ambassador”, who is also his country’s permanent representative before this UN organization.
The head of the Georgian diplomacy emphasized that the candidate “has played a fundamental role unblocking Georgia’s tourist potential through the promotion of foreign investments and innovation in the sector”. He also pointed out that Pololikashvili “is the most competent candidate to carry out the UNWTO’s ambitious objectives, which require an expert, committed and, of course, ambitious leader”.
Ambassador Pololikashvili thanked the words pronounced by both of them and declared that, in the case of being elected, his priorities will focus on promoting innovation, exchange of experiences and understanding, with special emphasis on sustainability of tourist projects and technological cooperation to create new models that support competitiveness.
On the other hand, Taleb Rifai, remembered that “nowadays, tourism is the world’s third biggest industry, only behind oil and the chemical industry; it represents more than 10% of the global GDP and it employs one out of every 11 people in the entire world”.
The UNWTO’s secretary general also highlighted the value of tourism to “break barriers and stereotypes”, because “it destroys intolerance and racism”. Rifai was proud to have been part of that development, since “there is nothing more valuable than seeing people, shoulder to shoulder, with other people, celebrating the beauty of this world together”.