UNWTO Executive Council, meeting today in Madrid./ Photo: UNWTO
Alberto Rubio. 12/05/2017
Georgia’s ambassador to Spain, Zurab Pololikashvili, will be the next secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), just lacking to be ratified by the General Assembly, which will meet from 11 to 16 September in Chengdu, China.
The Georgian ambassador told The Diplomat, shortly after his designation was made official, that it “is a great success” for his country – this is the first time a Georgian is elected to run an international organism- and said he is eager to start working “at a period with great challenges but also with huge opportunities” for world tourism.
In a brief statement, UNWTO noted that “the Executive Council, meeting in Madrid, Spain, on 12 May 2017, recommended Zurab Pololikashvili, Ambassador of Georgia in Spain, as a nominee for the post of Secretary-General for the four-year-period starting January 2018”.
UNWTO adds that “the recommendation of the Executive Council will be submitted to the upcoming 22nd UNWTO General Assembly for ratification”. The meeting will be held from 11 to 16 September in Chengdu, China.
Despite Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi, won first round with 11 votes against the Georgian diplomat’s eight votes, Pololikashvili won the second ballot with 18 votes, one more than needed to be nominated by the UNWTO Executive Council as secretary general, and three more than its opponent.
As The Diplomat advanced, Pololikashvili was one of the three best-placed candidates -along with Mzembi and Marcio Favila, current executive director of UNWTO- to succeed Taleb Rifai as head of this UN agency.
Pololikashvili is, in addition to ambassador of Georgia in Spain, the permanent representative of his country before UNWTO and its non-resident ambassador to Andorra, Morocco and Algeria. At his 40, he will be the youngest secretary general of UNWTO in his entire history.
The government of Spain immediately expressed its congratulations to Zurab Pololikashvili and to the Georgian government in a statement in which stressed “its firm intention to work with the new Secretary General in achieving the objectives of the Organization”, while showing “his recognition of Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai”.