Destination Mekong proudly announces the members of its first Executive Board

21 June 2022, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Destination Mekong held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 3 June 2022, together with the election of its new Executive Board Members.

Destination Mekong (DM) held its first Annual General Meeting since its incorporation as a full-fledged company in January this year. The AGM took place virtually and was attended by DM full members and guests.

Ms. Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong, introduced DM’s purpose, goals, and structure to the audience, stressing the importance of providing an inclusive framework that enables all kinds of members to participate actively. She also presented recent partnerships between Destination Mekong and other organizations sharing the same values, such as the South-Pacific Tourism Organisation, the Seoul Tourism Organization, and Planeterra, as well as its membership in the Small Islands Developing States Tourism Organizations (SIDS). Mr. Gerrit Kruger, Chief Marketing Officer of Destination Mekong, presented its Charter, which the members adopted without objection.

The 15 candidates for the new Executive Board of Directors were then given the opportunity to introduce themselves before processing the election through an online system. By the DM Charter, full members (Destination Mekong Changemakers) were invited to rank the candidates by order of preference.

As a result, the eight following people are now officially sitting on the new Executive Board:


As a result, the eight following people are now officially sitting on the new Executive Board:

Ms. Duangmala Phommavong, Co-Founder and Partner | EXO Travel Lao

Mr. Fréderic Tambon, Founder & CEO | Society and Fred, Expert in international marketing, tourism industry, and education

Mr. Guido Neil, Director Special Operations | 12Go

Mr. Mark Bibby Jackson, Founder | Travel Begins at 40

Ms. Melita Koulmandas, CEO/Founder | Song Saa Collective

Mr. Nguyen Tuan Linh, Owner | Mr. Linh’s Adventures Travel Company Limited

Dr. Sasithara Pichaichannarong, Rector | College of Tourism, Hospitality, and Sports, Rangsit University, Thailand | RSU Vista Golf Course

Ms. Sophea Sok, Regional Program Manager, Asia-Pacific | Planeterra Foundation

Additionally, Board Members representing the most significant financial contributors to Destination Mekong are:

For Small Luxury Hotels of The World: Mr. Mark Wong, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific

For the World Wildlife Fund (WWF): Mr. Jedsada Taweekan, Regional Illegal Wildlife Trade Program Manager for WWF-Greater Mekong

For Enwoke: Prof. Hailin Zhang, Professor at Guilin Tourism University

For Chameleon Strategies: Mr. Gerrit Kruger, Managing Director

For Sasin School of Management: Dr. Ian Fenwick, Director

Finally, ex-officio Board Members are:

Mr. Willem Niemeijer, outgoing Chairman of the Interim Board of Destination Mekong and CEO of Yanna Ventures;

Ms. Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong;

Dr. Jens Thraenhart, Founder of Destination Mekong.

After completing the elections, several upcoming initiatives and projects were presented, such as publications by the Destination Mekong Working Group on Academia and Education. It was also announced that Destination Mekong would prioritize the execution of the new Mekong Tourism Recovery Communications Plan, starting with the release of the much-expected Mekong Stories book in June.

To become a Destination Mekong Changemaker, please go to: or contact us.


Shinobu Hayama


Shinobu Hayama

Special Advisor (Japan-Mekong Cooperation)

What excites you about the Mekong Region?

Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand have gifted me some of the most transformative journeys since my university years. Each destination has moved me in their unique ways, the warm and resilient people, the depth of their stories, the vibrant species, mountains and rivers they flow with. I carry gratitude for being welcomed into their communities, over heartfelt homemade meals in their slum to scrubbing elephants in their sanctuary. The region was also my door to sustainable tourism on a global standard through the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Conference held in Chiang Mai, now a GSTC Trainer. The region continues to inspire me around the power of travel, as a way to connect, contribute and collaborate beyond us and them. This hope is what excites me the most.

Tell us about your Background

As the Mekong and other parts of the world taught me the power of travel, the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan made this tangible even more. People flew in across borders to combine efforts, where I saw that the more diverse people collaborate, the more solutions for a sustainable region. Since then, with sustainable development and humanity as a purpose, I have been dedicated to facilitating this through consulting, designing travel to capacity-building for people across cultures and sectors. I founded Journey for Change Co., Ltd. in 2019 to offer consultation and human resource development around sustainable travel and education, integrating approaches of sustainable tourism, social innovation, and change. With a vision to further behavioral to the systematic transformation towards a positive balance of society, environment, and economy, works include supporting destinations and businesses such as world heritage sites, Japan’s national airline and stakeholders, and academia including a partnership with a graduate school bridging multidisciplinary science.

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

I believe the Mekong Region and Japan carry diverse similarities and differences in their environment, society, economy, and their people. This also means a vast opportunity to learn from each other, transform and redefine together a healthy balance. Issues of another country are not just theirs, our nature and neighborhoods are intertwined, and I believe the Mekong River is a breathing symbol of this. I am motivated to explore and discover lasting cooperation through movements of people, knowledge, and practices amongst the countries, one step each towards a collective impact.