UN tourism agency suspends Russia membership News
UN tourism agency suspends Russia membership

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Tuesday voted to suspend Russia from the organization. The move came during an emergency session convened at the request of 6 members and at the instruction of the UNWTO’s Executive Council. The Executive Council previously debated suspending Russia in an emergency meeting last month.

The UNWTO is a specialized agency headquartered in Madrid and entrusted with promoting responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. Article 3 (1) of the Statutes of the UNWTO encourages all members to develop tourism to contribute towards economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal prospect for, and observance of, human rights.

A committee set up by the UNWTO in early April found that Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine contradicted the fundamental aims of the organization and justified the application of Article 34 of the statutes to suspend Russia from UNWTO membership.

Before the vote to suspend took place, however, the Russian delegation announced its withdrawal from the body. The body still voted to suspend Russia by over a two-third majority. This is because a suspension is effective immediately while a voluntary withdrawal is only effective one year after an official communication is submitted by the withdrawing member.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili said:

UNWTO’s Members have sent a clear message: Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and Members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions. This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance.

The suspension may be lifted if the General Assembly notes a change in Russia’s policy. An impact assessment by the UNWTO on Thursday reported that the Russian offensive in Ukraine may cost the international tourism economy $14 billion by adding risk to an already weak and uneven tourism recovery, weakening economic growth, increasing inflation and threatening tourism-related jobs. Russian and Ukrainian outbound travel represents nearly 3% of global spending on tourism.