Zurab Pololikashvili was confirmed yesterday as Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization in a secret ballot of its General Assembly, as requested by Costa Rica, following the controversy unleashed by a number of former senior UNWTO officials, who raised doubts about the legality of Pololikashvili’s election by the Executive Council of the Organisation.
The outcome of the vote left no room for doubt. In the secret ballot, Pololikashvili received 85 votes while those in favour of holding a new election were left with 25. In total, 74.6% of the votes were in favour of the current Secretary General, who will repeat his term of office for another four years, until 2025.
At the opening of the General Assembly, the Georgian politician received the block support of the heads of several UN bodies, including its Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. Among these messages of support, sent in the form of videos and broadcast at the start of the Assembly, were those of World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Secretary-General Juan Carlos Salazar, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan and Guterres himself.
Pololikashvili’s current mandate was due to expire on 31 December and, in accordance with UNWTO statutes, it was up to the 24th General Assembly to confirm the appointment of the Secretary-General for the period 2022-2025, following the recommendation of the 113th Executive Council, which renewed its confidence in the current Secretary-General over the candidate presented by Bahrain, the former Minister of Culture, Mai Al Khalifa.
Since he began his term as UNWTO’s head, Pololikashvili has sought to modernise and equip the organisation with mechanisms to make it more efficient. Among his objectives are innovation and digital transformation, investment, entrepreneurship, education, employment, travel security, tourism sustainability and its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Georgian took up the post of secretary general almost four years ago with the vision of making UNWTO more agile and his priority is to make tourism a driver of development through innovation, digital transformation, investment, entrepreneurship, education, employment, safe travel and social, cultural and environmental sustainability.