The commitment of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to moving closer to its Members and being on the ground in every region has been further demonstrated through confirmed plans for two new Regional Offices.
At the 25th UNWTO General Assembly (16-20 October 2023, Samarkand, Uzbekistan), Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili set out his leadership vision for the Organization, including the aim of adding to the growing network of Regional and Thematic offices. At the Assembly, Mr. Pololikashvili signed an agreement with Minister of Tourism of Brazil, Celso Sabino, to open a Regional Office for the Americas in Rio de Janeiro. Alongside this, UNWTO continues to work closely with the Kingdom of Morocco to establish a Regional Office for Africa in Marrakesh.
Reflecting the clear aims of the leadership vision for both UNWTO and the global tourism sector, Regional Offices will focus on one or more of the Organization’s priorities. The planned Regional Office for Africa will focus on the priorities of innovation and investments in tourism, while the Regional Office for the Americas will also be focused on investment. They will join the Regional Office for the Middle East, opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 2021, which is now a hub for tourism education and tourism for rural development, and the UNWTO Regional office for Asia and the Pacific in Nara, Japan.
Secretary-General Pololikashvili’s leadership vision for expanding and enhancing UNWTO’s presence on the ground also includes a commitment to new and more diverse Thematic Offices. At the119th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, also held in Samarkand, the Government of Uzbekistan presented its proposal to establish a Thematic Office for Tourism on the Silk Road in the city of Samarkand.
Additionally, after successfully unblocking stalled plans to move on from UNWTO’s home for more than 50 years, the Secretary-General used the occasion of the General Assembly to report that the Spanish Government is now set to start work on a new headquarters in Madrid. Works are expected to conclude in the first semester of 2025.