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January 16, 2019

Carlos Vogeler not fired by UNWTO

On December 9, WorldTourismWire published an article entitled UNWTO Revenge: “Zurab Pololikashvil fired Carlos Vogeler.”
This headline was now changed to “Zurab Pololikashvil will not keep Executive Director Carlos Vogeler.” Why did WorldTourismWire change this headline?

There are many different sources of information this wire and eTN receives about UNWTO activities, including from an “anonymous chat group, from press statements, insiders and UNWTO members.” Carlos Vogeler has never been one of these sources. When eTN published the headline the word “fired” was not meant to be taken literally but it may have been inappropriate and confusing. eTN should have checked with Mr. Vogeler directly to include his “official version” of the situation.

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Here are the facts: The contracts for all four executive directors in the World Tourism Organization are subject to expire December 31, 2017. According to eTN sources, three of the current executive directors will remain employed by the organization in one form or the other. The only current executive director not kept employed is Carlos Vogeler. Couldn’t this be interpreted as being “fired” in a way?

Strong and reliable sources told eTN,  Mr. Vogeler asked for an extension for personal reasons, but this was denied by Zurab. eTN will honor Mr. Vogeler’s request to abstain from making reference to his personal circumstances and those of his family.

Mr. Vogeler wrote to eTN on December 21 saying that the article on December 9 was written without his previous knowledge or consent. This is true. eTN did not contact Mr. Vogeler prior to writing the article, nor would eTN need anyone’s permission to do so.

Mr. Vogeler’s sees his own situation different: “The article indicates that I have been fired from UNWTO which is a totally false affirmation. My contract, once I reached the retirement age of 62 as per UN rules, is due to end on 31st December 2017. This date coincides with the end of the term of the current Secretary-General Mr. Taleb Rifai, whose Senior Team I have been proud to serve. Consequently, this is the end of my contract and not a dismissal and all my pension rights have been totally respected by the Organisation. ”

Mr. Vogeler continued to say,  he had been very honored and is proud of his professional career at UNWTO during all these years.

After again checking with sources, this publication stands behind its previous article and assertion about the likelihood of a “revenge”, even though Mr. Vogeler feels and clearly said in his letter this word was false and offensive to him. eTN today again checked a third time with sources close to the situation to come to this conclusion.

eTN will continue to monitor the situation and remains confident, that the previous evaluation on this issue was a correct assessment of the situation. eTN did not agree to remove the original article.

Nothing, of course, has been officially announced yet by the new Secretary General. When the new 107th session of the newly elected Executive Council met on September 16 in Chengdu. It was fully expected, as is the long-standing UNWTO tradition for any newly confirmed Secretary-General to present his deputy, and the rest of his executive team.

Curiously, this did not occur, because Pololikashivili wasn’t “ready”. Pololikashivili asked outgoing Secretary-General Taleb Rifai to push back the presentation and announce an extraordinary session of the Executive Council on the sidelines of the FITUR trade show in January 2018 in Madrid. Rifai announced this prominently at the 107th Executive Council meeting.

Some weeks later the minutes of this meeting was posted to the UNWTO website, yet there is not a single word about the incoming executive team presentation that was being rescheduled. Mysteriously it states the 108th  Executive Council meeting will be hosted in Madrid in the first half of 2018.

“Mr. Vogeler will leave UNWTO on December 31 and we wish him the very best for his future. Mr. Vogeler has made a difference to UNWTO and can take credit for a lot of amazing success stories. He will be remembered”, says eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz.

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