Special Envoy to Tbilisi (Georgia)
International unity against Covid-19 and innovative vision to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the most serious crisis facing world tourism. The support of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the proposals of the Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili, places the organization at the forefront of the recovery that experts are expecting from 2021.
The celebration of the Council itself, in person, was a symbol of the step forward of the UNWTO in its determined fight against the economic effects of the pandemic. Nor was the videoconference greeting by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, unprecedented, which underlined the importance of tourism, not only in a recreational sense, but as a motor of the world economy and a source of livelihood for millions of people around the world.
Zurab Pololikashvili made it clear that UNWTO must lead the coordination of all countries to “overcome the crisis we are facing together”. In his report, approved unanimously, he stressed that “a world without the contribution of tourism, whose activity is essential to the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world, is unthinkable”.
That is why he said that it is necessary to “avoid the total collapse of tourism” and committed to implementing innovative strategies to recover the third largest industry in the world, after chemicals and fuels, which generates 5 billion dollars a day in exports.
No one doubted yesterday in Tbilisi that this meeting will mark a before and after for world tourism, which must take advantage of proposals such as those that the UNWTO has launched in recent years and which were endorsed last year at the St. Petersburg meeting. The initiatives proposed during this time by the Secretary General are aimed at making tourism a sustainable economic activity that respects natural resources, such as the Tourism Start-Up Competition; the Global Initiative on Tourism and Plastics; or the Energy Solutions for Hotels, among others.
The UNWTO has never played such a decisive role in the face of a global crisis in all its years of history. For this reason, Pololikashvili stressed to the Council that the organization, faced with its greatest challenge, must show a united front, under the leadership and coordination of UNWTO. A proposal that had the agreement of the 35 countries represented in the room.
On the other hand, the Council also unanimously approved that its next meeting – in which the Secretary General will be elected for a new four-year term – will be held in Spain in 2021, coinciding with Fitur. The deadline for submitting nominations was set for 18 November.
Finally, the UNWTO Executive Council gave its full approval to the creation of the organization’s first regional office for the Middle East in Saudi Arabia.