UNWTO Secretary General Election: Georgia puts double pressure on China

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As the world’s fourth most visited country and with a massive outbound market that every tourism board in the world hopes to capture market share of, our industry is very much looking forward to the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly (United Nations World Tourism Organization), starting September 11, 2017 in Chengdu, China.  
 

“China’s importance as a driver of tourism development cannot be understated. It is not only the world’s fourth most visited country, but the number one source market in the world, as well as a prominent leader in domestic tourism.

These numbers, alongside the Chinese authorities continued recognition of tourism as a strategic pillar of the national economy and an effective development tool, make China a fitting host for the next UNWTO General Assembly“, said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

One of top priorities at the 22nd General Assembly meeting is voting for the new Secretary General of our UNWTO.  Highly placed, impeccable sources, have indicated Secretary-General Elect, Zurab Pololikashvili, has already made an advance, last ditch trip/mission to China, to garner support from the host country and neighboring nations.  
Needing two-thirds of the voting General Assembly to be ratified as the new Secretary General of  UNWTO, sources claim the Candidate Elect from Georgia and, critically, his government, is again engaged in election meddling.  This is tourism’s top post, we trust integrity and ethics will prevail within the voting community.  We all have to trust that, or all is lost.
From independent, reasonable, credible and documented accounts,  it was a combination of backroom meetings and secret handshake deals that garnered Polalikashvili the 18 Executive Council votes required to be presented before the General Assembly in Chengdu for final voting.  
 

Well placed sources have expressed concern the Candidate Elect, who did not show up at a single sanctioned UNWTO event during the campaigning process for the Secretary-General post, can take and find the time to travel to China ahead of this all-important General Assembly.

A July 24 twitter post by “Georgia in Spain” shows Georgian UNWTO nominee Ambassador Zurab Polalikashvili posting with Mr. Li Jinzao, CNTA Chairman shaking hands in front of the China National Tourist Authority in Beijing. The Georgian nominee proudly wrote, he is expecting full support by China in his confirmation vote in Chengdu.

It is expected to have Georgian Prime Minister  Giorgi Kvirikashvili attend the UNWTO General Assembly. 
This puts double pressure now on the Chinese Government and Mr. Li Jinzao to be bullied into a decision of support for Zurab Polalikashvili
This China meeting may have been a critical diplomatic move with far-reaching effects for tourism and travel on a global scale. This is not to be underestimated.  
However, we have every confidence UNWTO General Assembly voting members will not be influenced by outside interference. We have every confidence host country, China, will welcome all delegates fairly, warmly and very graciously.
Chengdu, China is show time for our UNWTO and the world’s largest single industry will be watching very closely.
Please check back for updates and breaking news as we countdown to the 22nd Assembly of the UNWTO in Chengdu, China.  Comments?
Please send us a note, we welcome feedback, on or off the record.
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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.