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UNWTO Competition started: Georgia and Zimbabwe in the ring for Secretary General

UNWTO Competition started: Georgia and Zimbabwe in the ring for Secretary General

The competition to become the new Secretary General of UNWTO is on. In the ring is the Hon. Walter Mzembi from Zimbabwe and the Hon. Zurab Pololikashvili from Georgia.

The outspoken Zimbabwe Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi has been on a global campaign traveling the world back and forth. He has been doing this for many months seeking support for his candidacy.  He got the endorsement of the African Union and was promised support from countries in many different regions of the globe.

Mzembi has been promoting a fresh new and global vision for UNWTO talking to heads of state, to ambassadors and ministers wherever he finds an opportunity.

The Georgian candidate shows a more local vision putting economic opportunities for his country in the foreground. He has not responded to interview requests by eTN.  Mzembi leaves no opportunity out to talk to media everywhere and has his PR team working hard on his case.

Mzembi leaves no opportunity out to talk to media  and has his PR team working hard to get press coverage as a global leader.



The new and latest candidate to compete for the highest global post in travel and tourism is the Georgian Ambassador to Madrid, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili. An event was held in Madrid this week.  The event was attended by Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze and the current Secretary General of the UNWTO  Taleb Rifai. 

It was the first public lobbying by the Georgian candidate, and he put up a more national and regional approach compared to Mzembi who has been lobbying tireless for many months on a truly global platform to become Secretary Genera for UNWTO.

At the Georgian event in Madrid, the current UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai addresses the audience. The audience included high-level members of the diplomatic corps representing their countries in the Spanish capital.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said:

“I think it’s very important, because this is the first of the events to open the opportunity for people to present themselves for candidature, and I think the presence of the Foreign Minister from Georgia who is here with us today and also the number of people who are here today, the variety of ambassadors that are represented in this room, it is very significant, and it is a very important sign. 

Today’s event also is excellent in the sense that it gave an opportunity for Georgia’s Ambassador Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili  to present some of his thoughts and some of his ideas. 

I have been Secretary-General of this organization for the last 7 or 8 years, and it’s coming to an end. My only hope is that this position would be continued by a good candidate and a candidate that can take this organization to an even higher level than it is now. That’s why I’m very particularly happy to be here tonight witnessing the introduction of a new candidate.”

Mikhail Janelidze – The Minister of foreign Affairs of Georgia said:

Georgia is given the chance to bit for this high position in the UN and in UNWTO, a specialized agency.

We see the tourism sector as a very important industry and an opportunity for Georgia. Our country has been actively involved in UNWTO organized projects in Georgia.

For Georgia to be able to nominate a candidate to lead the UNWTO shows our commitment and priority we put on tourism in our country.

With UNWTO based in Madrid, Madrid is considered the capital of tourism. Therefore today we invited high – ranking guests representing UNWTO member countries in Spain to our event here.

Exactly this is the kind of vision Zurab Pololikashvili has as a candidate for this important position.”

Giorgi Chogovadzethe Head of Georgian National Tourism Administration added: “Let me remind you that tourism is not only important in Georgia but is important also all over the world is an important economic sector. If our Georgian candidate will win, he will not only support the Georgian tourism sector but all other sectors of our country, and the world. 



The candidate Hon. Zurab Pololikashvili – Ambassador of Georgia to Spain finally added in promoting his candidacy:  “Today was a very important day for me. Today is the official launch event for my candidacy to become the next Secretary General of UNWO. I invited the diplomatic corp in the Spanish capital and key members of the diplomatic circle tonight.  I am very grateful to our Foreign minister.  I feel his huge support every day.

I also feel the support of our entire government.  We had a similar event several weeks ago in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was attended by our Prime Minister, and we showed the audience what we are planning and what our vision is for the future. I think this is a step forward. My victory would not only be a big achievement for me but also for the entire region. It would be a victory for our neighbors, as well as for Eastern Europe. To think even further we believe that I’ll be a good European candidate. For me, it is a great honor, an honor for our region and the entire European continent.”

The competition could get interesting. While Mzembi leaves out no opportunity to lay out his vision to the global media, Pololikashvili has been more reserved to talk to the press.

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