The majority of travel media features attractive images of destinations, the beaches, jungles, waterfalls or cityscapes. Travel and tourism journalism is not usually too complicated.
However, every so often a news story breaks about the little seen underbelly of the tourism business, and none in modern history has ever been as potentially catastrophic or as unseemly as the recent hijacking of the UNWTO Secretary-General election in Madrid. This is proving to be a game-changer in more the ways than one, even for media outlets who generally report on the sunny side of tourism.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the highest international authority for the travel and tourism industry. Ten percent of the world population is employed directly or indirectly through travel and tourism, making it the world’s largest single industry. The very top job in global tourism is the Secretary-General post of the UNWTO. The Secretary-General is elected every four years, and the position is currently held by Dr. Taleb Rifai, a well-respected industry leader who hopes to leave a strong, honorable legacy when he leaves the position later this year.
At the UNWTO Executive Council meeting last month in Madrid, the Georgia candidate, Zurab Pololikashvili garnered enough votes to be nominated as the Candidate Elect for Secretary-General and is no doubt banking on being confirmed by two thirds of the General Assembly of the UNWTO in Chendgu, China, in September.
Last week’s bombshell paper released by the Candidate from Zimbabwe, the Hon. Walter Mzembi, featured a detailed list of misconduct related to the UNWTO Secretary-General vote in Madrid. eTN has been receiving a sharp increase of media inquiries about this story. Mzembi also presented remedial solutions for the UNWTO General Assembly vote, which will take place September in China. Read the paper HERE.
However, sometimes a story is much more important than a single publication.
While eTN broke this story, and has received numerous calls with praise and thanks from industry leaders, we are willing to cooperate with other publications and pool resources to shed light on miscreant conduct during the election. The story is too big and too critical to the future of world tourism for eTN to be propriety about developments and the upcoming General Assembly vote.
And make no mistake, this is very much a developing story, with the outcome far from being a forgone conclusion, despite extensive underhanded efforts by Georgia to ensure their candidate sits in tourism’s equivalent of the Oval Office. Between now and September, when the General Assembly votes either for the Candidate Elect, Zurab Pololikashvili, or chooses to install a different candidate for tourism’s top job, eTN and other leading publications will be watching and reporting.
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