Russia is withdrawing from the United Nations tourism body, according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization, ahead of a vote on Wednesday to suspend Moscow's membership over its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has announced its intention to withdraw from the UNWTO, the UNWTO said in a tweet that Russia s suspension is effective immediately. In March, the UNWTO announced that it wanted to suspend Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
The decision must be approved by two-thirds of its 159 member states at a two-day extraordinary general assembly that took place in Madrid on Wednesday.
The UNWTO said the vote will go ahead even though Russia has said it is withdrawing from the body to give member states their say. The body said it is the first time it has met to consider the suspension of one of its members.
Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said that our statues were clear: promotion of tourism for peace and universal respect for human rights.
The former Georgian economic development minister whose country was invaded by Russia in 2008, said only members that abide by this can be part of the UNWTO.
Since it was founded in 1975, the UNWTO has been based in Madrid and has been an intergovernmental body that promotes tourism and facilitates international trade between nations.
The agency, which employs more than 150 people, warned that the conflict in Ukraine will delay the recovery of the global tourism sector after the COVID 19 epidemic.
It estimates that Russian and Ukrainian outbound travel could cause losses of up to $14 billion in tourism revenues this year, with the impact felt most strongly in island and coastal destinations.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24, has left thousands dead or injured, reduced cities and cities to rubble, and forced more than five million people to flee to other countries.
Moscow calls its actions a special operation to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists.
Ukraine and the West say this is a false pretext for an unprovoked war to seize territory, which has sparked fears of wider conflict in Europe that has never been seen since World War II.