Silence Is Not Always Golden: An Update On The Attempted Hijacking Of The UNWTO Election

Earlier this week eTN circulated an open letter by Juergen Thomas Steinmetz  (publisher) to the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) related to backroom deals and the upcoming Secretary General election.
Interestingly, the miscreant dealings to secure votes for the candidate from Georgia, Ambassador Zurab Pololikashvili, did not generate a large response from UNWTO Executive Council members, who each also received a personal letter asking for comment on this breaking, developing story.
Let us be specific, eTN reached out to Executive Council members directly and through their embassies in Washington. The countries acknowledging our email so far are Germany, Seychelles and the Republic of South Korea. Others did not respond.  This is an instance where silence is not golden, nor acceptable.

We got multiple emails from industry leaders, associations, and some of the Candidates congratulating eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz for shining light onto the dirty pool being played to win this important election. Many expressed a view that it may be too late: The deals are done, the votes essentially have been bought.

But is it ever too late in the day for fairness and ethical conduct? We think not.
The breaking narrative of a candidate for Secretary General and his government brokering deals to secure votes is repugnant and should be resoundingly rejected by the UNWTO Executive Council and General Assembly.
This is our UNWTO, and as an industry, we are being recklessly compromised.
One candidate willing to go on the record with a comment is Dr. Walter Mzembi representing Zimbabwe. Mzembi said if he was elected he would try to change the system to allow debates, like American-style political campaigns. “Unlike the American debating processes, we as candidates are not able to cross-examine each other’s policy offerings and other related matters, like adherence to principle, corporate governance etc. This is the most deficient process for electing such a high-level deployment for the UN.” said Candidate Mzembi.
We believes the proposal of candidate debates during the election campaign period is an excellent idea. We have seen the hard work legitimate candidates have put into the process of vying for the top job in global tourism, but a debating component is missing and much needed.  This publisher would like to see the candidate from Georgia debate Doh Young-Shim, Walter Mzembi, Alain St. Ange, Márcio Favilla , Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente, but that would require Ambassador Pololikashvili to show up at events and platforms created for candidates to share their vision and how they would lead our UNWTO.
Pololikashvili’s absence from industry events is conspicuous and this week the chorus of crickets from UNWTO Executive Council members is deafening.
The Secretary General post is an enormously important position for the world’s largest industry. We deserve a response on the brokering of deals for votes, as an industry we deserve and demand a qualified, ethical individual elected to the top job in global tourism. If not, we are being shortchanged.
Something cannot be bought if it isn’t for sale. It is not too late for our UNWTO to make it clear the election of Secretary-General will not be compromised under any circumstances.  The UNWTO’s future depends on zero tolerance for miscreant misconduct within the battle for election to Secretary General.
eTN will be closely following the election in Madrid, May 12. Importantly, we will also be watching the voting by the General Assembly this September in China, which could make a world difference to our industry and OUR UNWTO.