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
Secretary-General since 1 January 2018 after being elected by the 22nd Session of UNWTO General Assembly. He was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Kingdom of Spain, the Principality of Andorra, the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and the Kingdom of Morocco and Permanent Representative of Georgia to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) up to December 2017.
Between 2009 and 2010, he was Minister of Economic Development of Georgia. As a Minister of Economic Development of Georgia, Mr Pololikashvili was responsible for overseeing the country’s long-term fiscal growth strategies, advancing foreign trade and investment policy initiatives as well as for promoting the development of the tourism, infrastructure and transportation sectors. He was instrumental in launching an innovative policy for the development of tourism in Georgia, prioritizing the sphere on both the government and private sector agendas. During Mr Pololikashvili’s tenure as Minister of Economic Development, through key policy reforms, marketing activities, improvement of infrastructure and visa liberalization initiatives, Georgia nearly doubled the number of international tourist arrivals, from 1.5 million (2009) to exceeding the 2.8 million mark by 2011. Those reforms paved the way for sustainable tourism practices in Georgia and poverty alleviation initiatives, placing Georgia among the top tourism destinations in the region. Minister Pololikashvili successfully led the economic liberalization processes, introducing supportive policies for SMEs, and incentive programmes to attract foreign investment for the development of hard and soft infrastructure.
2006 – 2009 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Kingdom of Spain.
2005 – 2006 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. In this capacity as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, he supervised the departments for administrative, budgetary, financial and consular affairs, as well as the Department for Human Resources Management. Mr. Pololikashvili was responsible for ushering in a new phase of more liberal and secure visa regimes, facilitation of processes to ease border crossing procedures, and deepening relations with various international organizations, including UNWTO.
Experience in the private sector
Mr Pololikashvili’s private sector experience includes several years in the financial and banking sectors, serving as Manager of International Operations for TBC Bank (one of the most successful banks in Georgia), Director of TBC Bank’s Central Branch Office (2001-2005) and Vice President of TBC Group (2010 - 2011)
Mr Pololikashvili was CEO of FC Dinamo Tbilisi, the leading professional football team in Georgia (2001 – 2011).
2008 - 2009 Global Senior Management Program (GSMP), IE Business School, Instituto de Empresa, Madrid, Spain
1994 - 1998 Bachelor’s Degree in Banking, Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Mr Pololikashvili is married and has three children.
Georgian (native); English, Spanish, Russian (fluent), French, Japanese and Polish (spoken).
- 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.
- 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.
- Global Governance Project
Private and public sector coordination will be essential for restoring confidence in travel, which will in turn bolster economic growth and people’s livelihoods
- 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
- Arab News
The tourism industry in the Middle East and North Africa region has taken a drastic hit since the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
- 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
- Travel Daily News
In the video interview below, Zurab Pololikashvili answers the following question: How the coronavirus will affect the affected countries and non affected countries so far?
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!