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Gerrit Kruger

Chief Marketing Officer

"To create good tourism, we need to build pride in communities in their culture, offerings, and products and provide capacity to enable balanced tourism. Only people who like their communities, will invite others to experience."

What excites you about the Mekong Region?

During my travels in the region, I am always amazed about the variety of experiences it offers. Even within one country, the regions provide different environments, cultures, and vistas. The Khao Yai National Park in Thailand is very different from Chon Buri. The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is different from the central parts of the country. Luang Prabang is different from Vientiane. What excites me is learning about the life stories of the people, especially those, who want to make an impact. There are many things to learn from them on how they overcame adversities and what gives the strength to build a life for their families and support their communities.

Tell us about your Background

I have been working in tourism since I was a student of civil engineering in Weimar, Germany. During that time, I took my first hotel service job and got excited about the services and hospitality industries. I later worked for the World Exhibition and the Autostadt, which is a theme park by Volkswagen, before I decided to change my studies to international marketing and tourism. This brought me to Asia, where I studied at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore before joining the Singapore Tourism Board. Afterwards, I started my first own businesses, supplying hotels with teas and consulting companies on marketing and branding. Year later, I was asked to help Dusit Hotels & Resorts with their branding and loyalty programs, which brought me from Singapore to Bangkok, where I joined Chameleon Strategies, which is the lead partner in Destination Mekong. Overall, I have worked in this sector for close to 20 years and had the privilege to work on a number of exciting international projects in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and I hope to use this knowledge to support the industry in the region.

How do you want to make an impact for the region?

Research has shown that people have the most engagement from stories. When friends tell you about their holidays, the experiences they had, and the people they met, you are more likely to consider a trip to the same region than when seeing a corporate video or advertisement. You will remember the content of the story more than when you are reading a book and you will feel more emotionally connected to it. The Mekong region has a lot of stories to tell. Stories that inspire, stories that make you think, stories that make you want to experience this wonderful region and its people. I believe by telling these stories, not only to potential tourists but also within the community, we can build a resilient and inclusive tourism sector that benefits communities and the region as a whole.