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June 27, 2019

Zurab Pololikashvilion and Taleb Rifai not on talking terms?

Are UNWTO member states and affiliated members really aware of what is happening at the organization in Madrid?

Insiders within the UNWTO family think there may be a direct attempt by the current secretary- general Zurab Pololikashvilion to discredit the legacy of the very same person who made him get the position he currently has. This person is no other than former UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai who put his influence and good reputation behind the avoidance of an open vote to confirm or not confirm Zurab Pololikashvilion in Chengdu. Mr.Pololikashvilio became UNWTO secretary-general by acclamation.

Today it’s obvious, there is a new ruler in Madrid surrounding himself with new close friends behind closed doors.
Today it becomes obvious people within UNWTO are worried and often work in fear and trying to hang onto their jobs.
Established programs, past achievements and even working policies are becoming a threat to the current Secretary-General.

Today it becomes obvious changes and secrecies and now a major audit is putting the well-praised legacy of former UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in question.

When it comes to delivering an audit, quality is KPMG’s top priority. According to KPMG’s website, their audit professionals’ foremost responsibility is to serve investors, the capital markets, audit committees and management with reasonable assurance. According to information received from people close to UNWTO KPMG was hired by the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. The reason is not clear, but justifying changes and cuts in programs and staff contracts or finding blame comes with audits.

It appears Mr. Pololikashvili is working on a new era at UNWTO and his upcoming report to the First Executive Council meeting in April in San Sebastian, Spain will shed some light on the direction the organization is taking.  Since he took office, UNWTO no longer is the transparent, media-friendly and open organization it was in the past. Unfriendly cold war secrecy became a policy for the United Nations specialized agency in charge of promoting what is seen as the friendly industry, the tourism industry.

Audits are often used to justify certain steps, so gossip and fear within and around UNWTO is a sad reality today.  It waits to be seen who the victims will be. Will Taleb Rifai be considered collateral damage?

The question remains for later.  Will the UNWTO Executive Council be transparent and strong enough to analyze, question and if necessary correct the direction the organization seems to be taking.

eTN asked many questions without responses. eTN is aware of only one short press conference the new UNWTO boss attended. It was during FITUR. There was very little time for questions in Spanish only. Even at ITB Berlin, there was no UNWTO press-meeting. Ever since the new secretary-general took office not one media question by eTN was responded to, therefore this article is based on reliable information by sources and without input by UNWTO.


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