Bangkok, March 16, 2021: Jens Thraenhart has decided to step down from his post as Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.
Thraenhart served in that role since his appointment in June 2014, after having served as the strategic advisor to the previous MTCO Executive Director. After three and a half two-year terms, he has been the longest serving MTCO Executive Director.
Thraenhart said: “I am stepping down from the MTCO for personal reasons. After seven years in office, I want to more broadly expand my efforts to promote responsible tourism development beyond the Greater Mekong Subregion. The time is right to put into action what I have learned.”
Thraenhart is credited with strongly enhancing the MTCO’s digital offerings. MTCO’s website (MekongTourism.org), and Mekong Tourism’s engaging social media presence have won several prestigious awards, such as the PATA Gold Award and the HSMAI Adrian Gold Award.
The MTCO’s annual flagship event, the Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF), was recognised by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as a global best practice example of inclusive and responsible tourism. The innovative concept to make the destination the host was launched in 2017 and has since allowed over hundreds of small tourism businesses in emerging destinations to be showcased to the world.
Thraenhart also supported the creation of the private sector framework, Destination Mekong. Its aim was, and is, to develop, execute, and operate various tourism initiatives. These included the award-winning Mekong Moments and Mekong Mini Movie Festival campaigns, the Experience Mekong Collection, Mekong Heroes, Mekong Trends, and the Mekong Innovations in Sustainable Tourism (MIST) program.
The MTCO aligned the Destination Mekong initiatives to the Mekong Tourism Marketing Plan and the Mekong Tourism Sector Strategy. The private sector invests and owns these programmes, creating an innovative and powerful public-private sector partnership framework.
Thraenhart said: “While we have made tremendous progress in promoting the Greater Mekong Subregion as a single tourism destination, external factors make it increasingly difficult to do my job and carry out the mandate of the MTCO.”
Looking back on seven years, Thraenhart said: “I would like to thank the six governments of the Greater Mekong Subregion for their trust and confidence placed in me in heading the prestigious and pioneering Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. I am proud of what we have achieved. I am deeply honoured to have served the tourism stakeholders of the Greater Mekong Subregion.”
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MEKONG TOURISM COORDINATING OFFICE AND DESTINATION MEKONG?
The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is the secretariat of the GMS Tourism Working Group, and is owned and funded by the six governments of the Greater Mekong Subregion – Cambodia, Lao PDR, PR China, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam. The MTCO is hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, and is staffed by an Executive Director and an Operations Manager. The Executive Director reports to the MTCO Board, made up of senior tourism ministry officials of the six member governments. The work is prioritized by an annual work-plan, aligned to the Mekong Tourism Marketing Strategy and Mekong Tourism Sector Strategy. The MTCO manages the MekongTourism.org website, newsletter, and social media accounts, and organizes the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, in partnership with Destination Mekong. More information is available at www.MekongTourism.org.
Destination Mekong (DM) is the regional destination marketing organization, and is owned and funded by the private sector of the travel and tourism industry in the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion. DM initiates, develops, and operates various programs and initiatives aligned to the strategic framework of the regional Mekong Tourism collaboration, published by the six member tourism ministries via its secretariat, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. Destination Mekong is governed by a Board of Directors, overseen by a Chair, and managed by a staff funded by Destination Mekong membership fees and program revenue streams. Initiatives include the award-winning Mekong Moments and Mekong Mini Movie Festival campaigns, the Mekong Innovations In Sustainable Tourism (MIST) program, the Experience Mekong Collection & Showcases, Mekong Heroes, and Mekong Trends. Destination Mekong also hosts its (Virtual) Destination Mekong Summit, in partnership with MTCO. Destination Mekong manages the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG), and organizes various virtual events in collaboration with MTCO. More information is available at www.DestinationMekong.com.