Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO
"Our sector gives them the chance to make a living. To earn not just a wage, but also dignity and equality. Tourism jobs also empower people and provide a chance to have a stake in their own societies – often for the first time."
Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili
Zurab Pololikashvili has been Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) since January 2018. Prior to this, he worked in a number of high-level roles in both the private and public sectors. After graduating with a degree in banking, Mr. Pololikashvili gained extensive experience in the private sector, including with a prominent role in one of Georgia’s biggest banks and as CEO of the country’s leading football team, FC Dinamo Tbilisi.
After a year as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was appointed the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Spain, Andorra, Algeria and Morocco in 2006, and was then his country’s Minister of Economic Development between 2009 and 2010. In this position, Mr Pololikashvili oversaw the development of tourism within Georgia, establishing the sector as a leading employer and contributor to national economic development.
At the 23rd General Assembly of the UNWTO, Member States unanimously approved his plan of action for global tourism, including the landmark Agenda for Africa and his focus on promoting tourism as a driver of gender equality, job creation and rural development.
As the COVID-19 pandemic presented tourism with the biggest crisis in the sector’s history, Mr Pololikashvili guided its response and recovery, winning political and practical support from governments and international organizations and uniting stakeholders around shared solutions and harmonized protocols. Under his leadership, UNWTO gained unprecedented visibility and prominence within the United Nations system, strengthening bonds with other key agencies and placing tourism at the heart of the wider agenda for recovery and sustainable development.
At the end of 2021, Member States met in Madrid for the 24th UNWTO General Assembly. They voted for Mr Pololikashvili to serve a second term as Secretary-General, giving him a clear and strong mandate to guide the restart of tourism and advance the key priorities of jobs and education, tourism and rural development and sustainability.
- The Global Governance Project
Tourism can drive the global recovery, but restarting it must be done responsibly, requiring political will and investments.
The agenda of Italy’s G20 presidency is built on three core pillars: ‘People, Planet and Prosperity’. Undoubtedly, in the 22 years since the G20 was first established at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors, much progress has been made in each of these areas.
- Toronto Star
Despite the global vaccine roll out, the world still faces paralyzing uncertainty. The third wave of COVID-19 has caused countries to close travel corridors and even introduce forced hotel quarantine for all arrivals. It’s safe to say that global tourism stands at a crucial juncture, stuck between an ongoing crisis and the welcome prospect of revitalization in the near future.
- Arab News
Tourism touches almost every part of our societies. The sector has a unique power to transform lives and provide opportunities, including for those who might otherwise be left behind. Around the world, in countries at all development levels, many millions of jobs and businesses are dependent on a strong and thriving tourism sector.
Tourism is a major driver of the world economy, accounting for 7 per cent of international trade. Globally, tourism generates directly or indirectly one in every ten jobs. The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the tourism economy, with unprecedented effects on jobs and businesses. Tourism was one of the first sectors to be deeply affected by the COVID-19 containment measures...
- The Independent
The UK government described its imposition of quarantine restrictionsagainst Spain as a necessary step. But while the government must safeguard its citizens, knee-jerk reactions could do more harm than good.
As well as undermining public trust and confidence – precious commodities that have taken months to rebuild
- Daily Mail
To help prevent a bad recession from turning into a major depression, it’s vital we bring in a globalised test, track and trace system for coronavirus
There’s no way the global economy will come roaring back without the engine of tourism behind it.
For obvious reasons, though, many people are reluctant to travel.
Short of a vaccine, what can restore their confidence?
- New York Daily News
Some fear that COVID-19 has halted globalization’s progress, eroding international cooperation, and decimating a primary driver of our interconnectedness: tourism. For those who are dedicated to global harmony and mutual engagement, or simply concerned about the future viability and prosperity as a sector, these outcomes are unacceptable.
Globally, the sector is amongst the world’s top employers. International tourism represents 7% of total exports and is the world’s third-largest export category by earnings, after chemicals and fuels. In Europe alone, tourism generated almost $410 billion in revenues in 2019 and provided more than 27 million jobs. In short, tourism is central to the global economic machinery.
UN World Tourism Organization Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili speaks about why the organization is considering suspending Russia from its membership.
My message will be to be united, to be united will give us more possibilities to restart as fast as possible and millions of jobs are still at risk. Private companies, families and people who are working in the tourism industry are still suffering
- Forbes Georgia
- Investment Monitor
The tourism industry was battered by the Covid pandemic in 2020, but Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of the UNWTO, identifies the drivers that could incentivise tourism FDI in 2021.
- Hospitality News
Last January, UNWTO members re-elected Zurab Pololikashvili for a new mandate to lead the agency. HN had an exclusive chat with him to hear his upcoming plans and strategies amid an uncertain global tourism industry
- Xinhua Net
As countries in Europe start to reopen to tourism amidst a decline in the spread of COVID-19, a senior official from the UNWTO
After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, people, as well as our whole societies and economies, have suffered enough. We cannot afford for this to continue. We must rebuild and look to the future with hope, not fear.
This has been another challenging year for our societies, our economies and tourism. Many millions of jobs and businesses remain in peril, at the mercy of an evolving crisis and of the actions of governments.
We are almost at the end of what has been the most challenging year in the history of tourism.
Almost overnight, the pandemic brought global tourism to a complete standstill.
If tourism brings us together, then travel restrictions keep us apart.
More importantly, restrictions on travel also prevent tourism from delivering on its potential to build a better future for all.
Between January and May, the sudden and rapid fall in tourist arrivals cost an estimated $320 billion. That’s three times greater than the impact of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 on our sector – and this is just for the first five months of the year.
This goes hand-in-hand with a responsibility to preserve the spirit of international solidarity that has characterized our response to this shared crisis, a response that has included international institutions, the civil society at large and individual citizens.
Across Europe, the responsible restart of tourism is now underway. But even as growing numbers of tourists cross borders and businesses open up again, this is no time for complacency.
- Tourism Restarts
Four months ago, UNWTO asked its Members, the tourism sector and tourists themselves for patience. To stay at home for today so we could travel again tomorrow.
Tomorrow is now here.
- Allied for Action
Both in assessing the impact of COVID-19 and in looking at how we can restart tourism in a responsible way, based on the best that our sector has to offer: sustainability, innovation, collaboration and solidarity.
At both the local and the global level, the crisis we have faced up to together has shown the importance of making the right decisions at the right time.
The time has come to restart tourism!