Secretary General of the UNWTO meets with Pope Francis
After the meeting Zurab Pololikashvili said that tourism and religion have much in common, both strive to make the world a better place by eradicating poverty and promoting peace
The Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. During the private audience, Mr. Pololikashvili expressed his gratitude for the commitment of the Holy See to eradicate poverty and promote peace and intercultural dialogue, coinciding with the central objectives within the mandate of the UNWTO. He also summarized his vision of the role tourism can play in job creation and sustainable development.
As part of an official visit to Italy, the private audience with Pope Francis aimed to further strengthen the links between UNWTO and the Holy See. UNWTO has enjoyed a long and productive relationship with the Holy See, which has the status of Observer of the World Tourism Organization since 1975, the year UNWTO was created. More recently, in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI received the members of the UNWTO World Tourism Ethics Committee. On that occasion, the UNWTO World Code of Ethics for Tourism, which describes the guiding principles to which the public and private members of the Organization adhere, was presented to the Holy Father.
Today's official meeting between the heads of the Catholic Church and the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and inclusive tourism was built on these bases. Mr. Pololikashvili also highlighted UNWTO support for the growing religious tourism sector, highlighting how it can be used to safeguard and promote heritage that extends beyond confessions and serve as a catalyst for employment and economic growth.
"It was a great honor, both professionally and personally, to meet with Pope Francis and I thank him for his warm welcome to the Vatican and for granting me a private audience," said Mr. Pololikashvili. "Tourism and religion have a lot in common. Both strive to make the world a better place by eradicating poverty and promoting peace. I especially admire His Holiness' commitment to the empowerment of minorities and the disadvantaged, which is at the heart of UNWTO's vision for sustainable and inclusive tourism. "