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Public-private partnerships key to Mekong’s tourism recovery

It is vital private sector players step up their game to coordinate unified tourism recovery across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries in the wake of change at Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), say regional stakeholders.

Earlier this month, Jens Thraenhart, MTCO’s longest serving executive director, handed in his resignation, citing “personal values” as the reason for leaving his seven-year tenure.

He said: “It’s about standing up for my values and doing what I believe in. This office was formed to develop collaborative sustainable tourism across the Mekong region and we have created a very unique and powerful private-public partnership that does that. But in the current situation, it’s difficult.”

Thraenhart will continue his service during his 90-day notice period.

A special MTCO board meeting of GMS member governments will be held in April, where the six tourism ministries will decide how to move forward.

In the interim, regional tourism stakeholders say now is the time for the industry to unite and strengthen the innovative framework Thraenhart has created through MTCO; the secretariat of GMS Tourism Working Group of the six governments; and Destination Mekong, a DMO driven by the private sector; to move forward.