Russia withdraws from UN tourism agency: UNWTO – Times of India


MADRID: Russia to withdraw from United Nations tourism agency, the UN World Tourism Organization said Wednesday ahead of a vote to suspend Moscow’s membership over the invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia has announced its intention to withdraw from the UNWTO,” the UNWTO said in a tweet, adding that Russia’s suspension “will come into effect immediately”.
The UNWTO announced in March that it would suspend Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
The decision must be approved by two-thirds of the 159 member states at a two-day extraordinary general meeting that kicked off on Wednesday in Madrid.
The UNWTO said the vote will continue even as Russia has said it will withdraw from the body to “have their say” on member states.
The body said it is the first time it is meeting to consider the suspension of one of its members.
“Our statues are clear: promoting tourism for peace and universal respect for human rights,” tweeted Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
“Only members who abide by this can join the UNWTO,” said the former Georgian economic development minister whose country was invaded by Russia in 2008.
The UNWTO, an intergovernmental body that promotes tourism and facilitates international trade between countries, has been based in Madrid since its foundation in 1975.
The agency, which employs nearly 150 people, has warned that the conflict in Ukraine will slow the uneven recovery of the global tourism sector from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It estimates that the disruption to Russian and Ukrainian outbound travel could cause up to $14 billion in tourism revenue this year alone, with the impact felt most strongly on island and coastal destinations.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24, has left thousands dead or injured, reduced towns and cities to rubble and forced more than five million people to flee abroad.
Moscow calls its actions a “special operation” to disarm and protect Ukraine from fascists.
Ukraine and the West say this is a false pretext for an unprovoked war to conquer territory in a move that has sparked fears of greater conflict in Europe, unprecedented since World War II.

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