UNWTO appoints new chief after debate on vote

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-14 16:37:23|Editor: Mengjie
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Zurab Pololikashvili (L front), newly-elected secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), hugs his predecessor Taleb Rifai, in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 14, 2017. The UNWTO General Assembly on Thursday approved the nomination of Zurab Pololikashvili, Georgian ambassador to Spain, as its next secretary-general from 2018 to 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Huan)

CHENGDU, China, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly on Thursday approved the nomination of Zurab Pololikashvili, Georgian ambassador to Spain, as its next secretary-general.

Pololikashvili's appointment came after the 22nd session of UNWTO General Assembly entered its second day in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Pololikashvili was nominated as the chief of the 156-member organization in May during the 105th meeting of the UNWTO Executive Council in Madrid, to succeed Taleb Rifai, who completes two maximum and successful four-year terms.

Rifai stressed during Thursday's session that the selection was made "under clean and transparent circumstances."

During that session, Zimbabwe's push for a vote on UNWTO's next chief in support of Gambia's proposal led to an open debate.

Most delegates expressed their supports for a vote to maintain unity.

"I was in favor of a vote... (but) It's better to show unified position and go back to consensus," which is "as legal as a vote," Rifai told a press conference after the session.

For his part, Pololikashvili pledged a "productive" cooperation with Africa, vowing to "continue the way which was started by Rifai" in his future work.

He highlighted one of the UNWTO priorities, that is to conduct tourism cooperation on special project concerning the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Rifai described the UNWTO cooperation with China as a "strategic relationship" and the "best relationship we can ever have," saying the two sides are "good partners."

Meanwhile, he expressed support for the China-initiated World Tourism Alliance that was established on Tuesday, as he believes it would be a support to UNWTO.

More than 1,000 delegates, including tourism ministers, from more than 130 countries attended the four-day biennial UNWTO meeting this year, with focuses on sustainable development and tourism.