UNWTO and Netflix partner on screen tourism push

UNWTO and Netflix have partnered on the publication of a report which looks at the role of film and series as drivers for tourism and cultural affinity.

The Global Report on Cultural Affinity and Screen Tourism explores the growing affection one has towards a particular country or culture displayed on the screen.

The findings of the research were presented in Madrid at the Iberseries Platino Industria, the largest international event for professionals linked to the audiovisual industry in Spanish and Portuguese.

The report’s ultimate goal is to support policymakers and key stakeholders within the tourism sector to implement policies that make their destinations attractive for audio-visual producers.

It also aims to help in the building of strategies to promote tourism and consumption of local culture, investing in skills and training to develop the local film and creative sectors, as well as integrating tourism and showcasing culture at film festivals to deepen the global audiences’ knowledge.

UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Both tourism and the audiovisual sectors celebrate and promote culture, support jobs and provide opportunities in diverse locations. The joint work of UNWTO and Netflix will help destinations realise the potential benefits of screen tourism.”

Dean Garfield, vice-president, public policy, Netflix, added: “As highlighted in this research, we have been able to demonstrate conclusively what we instinctively already believed, which is that alongside the desire to travel and visit destinations, exposure to screen content also leads to greater interest in heritage, culture, language, and developing interpersonal relationships.

“This truly demonstrates that the creative industries, cultural exchange, storytelling, and tourism are all interlinked and can transform the way communities perceive and connect with each other.”

Following the presentation of the Global Report, experts on tourism and the audio-visual industry shared their knowledge and insights into changing trends in screen tourism and its positive impacts on strengthening cultural affinity, as well as the role of online streaming services in promoting tourism and cultural affinity between people, cultures and countries in line with the 2030 Agenda.

Read the full article at TTG Asia: https://www.ttgasia.com/2021/10/05/unwto-and-netflix-partner-on-screen-tourism-push/

SPTO – Destination Mekong Partnership to Enhance Tourism Recovery

Bangkok & Fiji, 10th October 2021

The Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) and Destination Mekong have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to foster a collaborative partnership that will benefit both organizations and their stakeholders.

With their extensive membership of the greater Mekong sub- region (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as Southwestern Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guanxi) and 20 Pacific Island countries (PICs), spanning all four sub-regions, SPTO and Destination Mekong represent world-class tourism destinations that will benefit from information sharing and best- practice experiences under the MoU.

A key objective of the partnership is to accelerate sustainable and inclusive tourism growth post- pandemic, so as to ensure that tourism’s benefits are equitably distributed to all stakeholders whilst also enhancing sustainable tourism development practices in the destinations.

Speaking at the MoU announcement at the virtual Mekong World Tourism Day Forum, Destination Mekong founder and outgoing Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, Mr. Jens Thraenhart, noted the importance of innovative collaboration during this time.

“The MoU with SPTO signals an important step in a partnership agreement between two major regional tourism organizations, in a time when collaboration and sharing of knowledge is more important than ever, to practically assist our business communities prepare for a balanced tourism eco-system”, he said.

Similarly, SPTO Chief Executive, Mr. Christopher Cocker, emphasized the importance of building partnerships to effectively address common challenges.

“We are very excited to work with Destination Mekong to bring together our resources and experiences for the benefit of our respective member countries. We recognize that some Destination Mekong members are well established tourism destinations and will have valuable lessons to share with SPTO and our members”.

“Moreover, with diverse stakeholders and rapidly changing trends threats regional tourism is becoming more and more complex. Therefore, collaboration with like- minded partners is critical for regional tourism organisations, particularly against the backdrop of the pandemic. Innovation and collaboration will drive tourism’s recovery and ensure resilience in the long run”, said Mr. Cocker.

SPTO and Destination Mekong intend to host a virtual mini tourism forum towards the end of 2021, with details to be announced in due course.






Established in 1983 as the Tourism Council of the South Pacific, the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is the mandated organisation representing Tourism in the region. Its 21 Government members are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Rapa Nui, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu Wallis & Futuna and the People’s Republic of China. In addition to government members, the Pacific Tourism Organisation also enlists a private sector membership base. SPTO’s mission is to ensure sustainable tourism development through innovative partnerships. The vision of the organisation is, “Our Pacific Islands’ empowered and benefitting from sustainable tourism”.


*Queries may be directed to twaqavonovono@spto.org


Destination Mekong:

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.


*Queries may be directed to info@destinationmekong.com

Cardamom Tented Camp in Cambodia Earns Green Destinations’ Top 100 Global Accolade for 2021

Cardamom Tented Camp ecolodge in Cambodia has been announced by Green Destinations as one of the 2021 Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories in the world.

The announcement was made 5 October in the online annual conference of Green Destinations, a non-profit organisation for sustainable tourism, based in The Netherlands. The annual programme has been in existence since 2014.

Cardamom Tented Camp was chosen by the judges among 28 tourism experiences around the world in the Nature and Ecotourism category. The other 72 winners were in the categories of Localisation and Decarbonising the Local Supply Chain; Communities and Culture; Environment and Climate; and Tourism Reset and Recovery.

“Since Cardamom Tented Camp opened in 2017 we’ve helped protect 18,000 hectares of forest by channelling income from the camp to support 12 forest rangers who have done a terrific job of reducing illegal logging, wildlife hunting and sandbank dredging,” said Willem Niemeijer, CEO of YAANA Ventures, the camp operator.

“Right from day one our slogan has been, ‘Your Stay Keeps the Forest Standing’. The Green Destination judges saw those details of our work. They recognised that our sustainability story as a world-class and inspirational conservation tourism project could be emulated in other places,” he said.

In an earlier Q&A session for the online conference on 5 October, Niemeijer told Green Destination online conference attendees that Cardamom Tented Camp was based on three principles: a belief in visitor dispersion to off-the-beaten-track places away from over-touristed hubs; a commitment to work with experts, such as NGO Wildlife Alliance; and a full-hearted belief in the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit, which had to be unwavering if the project was going to be truly sustainable, said Niemeijer.

In an official statement announcing the Top 100, Green Destinations said: “With the tourism sector facing very challenging times in the past year or so, the resilience and hard work of these destinations to become more responsible should be celebrated. The 2021 selection was determined by the quality, transferability, and, more than ever, by the level of innovation of the stories.”

Albert Salman, the President of Green Destinations told the audience that the objective of the top 100 sustainability stories programme was to “inspire responsible tourism leadership around the world”.

The full Green Destinations’ list of Top 100 Sustainability Stories for 2021 can be viewed here.

Further information on Cardamom Tented Camp, including its back story, its other awards and guest experiences, is available here.

Tourism guru detained in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military junta arrested prominent travel executive and champion of responsible tourism, Myo Min Daw, in the early hours of 23 September.

Reports suggest he was charged under the penal code section 505a that restricts freedom of speech and participation in democracy demonstrations. Reliable sources fear he may have been initially taken to a notorious detention centre where detainees suffer abuse and torture. It is now very likely he is in custody at Yangon’s Insein prison, equally notorious for its inhumane conditions, abuse of inmates and mental and physical torture.

Details are sketchy as both Myo Min Zaw’s Facebook and Twitter accounts closed or were deactivated after he was arrested at his Yangon residence in the presence of his wife and son. 

Reliable sources that keep a check on the situation in Myanmar noted the official news media focuses on the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s bold assertions that it will reopen tourist destinations to kick start economic recovery. At the same time, the military regime blames all the country’s ills on the Covid-19 pandemic. But the reality on the ground differs dramatically as the military regime is carrying out arrests and putting tourism entrepreneurs behind bars.

One brave comment* questioned the military regime’s pledge to support inclusive development, saying it was a message for just a “certain group only… while thousands of small tourism businesses struggle to stay afloat. We are facing two storms in Myanmar – Covid and the Coup, the latter being a much bigger one. We have to ask if you can’t provide safety for your own people (including travel industry people), how can you ensure the safety of international visitors.”

Tourism executives, mostly supporters of the Mekong region’s responsible tourism projects in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, expressed their grave concern over the safety of travel industry executives and staff detained in Myanmar and called for their immediate release. It is understood they are privately contacting top officials in Myanmar’s tourism ministry to ask for more information and assurances on Myo Min Zaw’s safety and welfare as he awaits trial and sentencing in Insein prison.

Independent organisations estimate that more than 8,000 citizens have been detained since the 1 February military coup with more than 1,000 fatalities, mostly victims of military regime attacks on unarmed civilians who were demonstrating for the return of democracy.

Myo Min Zaw is the founder of Inle Canoe Lady and Bagan’s Goat-Keeping Tours, both award-winning innovative travel experiences.

His Inle Lake venture launched in 2017 supports a community of women residents who offer canoe trips through the lake’s Pauk Par village. He called them “Inle Lake’s Gondolas.”

The Inle travel experience features in the Experience Mekong Collection that supports SMEs in the Mekong Region under the auspice of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office*. It is among 10 tourism projects in Myanmar that the Mekong Region’s MTCO and its marketing arm, Destination Mekong, showcase for their responsible tourism content.

Myo Min Zaw’s career in tourism spans 20 years, starting as a professional English and Italian speaking tour guide. He later established responsible tourism projects and most recently, he founded the non-government organisation ‘Tourism for All, Myanmar’ community. It supports the creation of essential services in Myanmar’s tourism, such as donating rubbish bins, first-aid kits, community toilets, educational tools and a recycled paper bag campaign.

In early December 2018, his Inle Lake project won the prize for Best Tourism Product for Empowerment at the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Awards presented by the Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute.

He also participated as a panellist and workshop facilitator at NCCT (National Conference on Community and Tourism) 2019 on responsible tourism and received the Green Microphone Award from Slovenia 2019 (UNWTO affiliated).

*Comments are not attributed as they were given under the strictest conditions of anonymity.

**The Greater Mekong Subregion’s MTCO is funded by the tourism ministries of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam and is supported by the Asian Development Bank.

Source: https://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2021/09/tourism-guru-detained-in-myanmar/


Great discussion with amazing panellists on Destination Mekong Food & Agro-Tourism Expert Group webinar today (September 21, 2021) on the theme “An Appetite for Travel – The Crucial Role of Food Tourism in the Recovery of The Tourism Industry” organised by Destination Mekong and moderated by Vincent Vichit-Vadakan, the chair of Food & Agro-Tourism group.
Very insightful aspects on food tourism in different views from the speakers from innovations to food as a key driver for tourism recovery in the Mekong Region.
For anyone who missed the event today, the recording is available at https://bit.ly/2VWmIjw.

MeTAG Wildlife Tourism & Conservation Promotional Event on August 30, 2021

Thank you to the MeTAG Wildlife Tourism & Conservation Expert Group for such great and valuable efforts putting together the webinar promoting the best practices and ethical, conservation-minded wildlife tourism in GMS organized by Destination Mekong
It was a productive session having our 2021 Experience Mekong Showcases Finalists Wildlife Alliance, ອຸທິຍານແຫ່ງຊາດນໍ້າແອດ-ພູເລີຍ Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park as well as GTAEF Helping Elephants, our Experience Mekong Collection member joined and presented their inspiring stories.
For anyone who missed the session, the recording is available here https://youtu.be/2BJOK73iqzw
Please also cast your vote for the 2021 Experience Mekong Showcases if you haven’t done so. Today is the last chance to support small responsible businesses in the Mekong Region.

Watch a recording of the event here:

Destination Mekong – Responsible and Safe Forms of Voluntourism webinar on August 24, 2021

On August 24, Destination Mekong and EPACT International, together with Child Protection Expert Group, co-organized the Destination Mekong – Responsible and Safe Forms of Voluntourism.

It was a very successful event with almost 200 participants to learn how voluntourism plays an important role in sustainable, responsible travel and tourism development in the region.

Thank you very much for such great support from ក្រសួងទេសចរណ៍ Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia and Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, Lao PDR to join the panel discussion and share the valuable insights from best practices implemented in the countries.
We also would like to thank all the great effort from our MeTAG Child Protection and Education Expert Group to organize and invite Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office to join the webinar.

Centara backs startup competition

Centara Hotels & Resorts and True Digital Park, Southeast Asia’s largest startup and tech entrepreneur campus, join hands to deliver a competition and incubator programme. 

The ‘Centrara Startup Sandbox’ competition and a three-month incubator programme support startups and entrepreneurs with co-working space, facilities, mentorship and funding.

The Startup Sandbox project, held in collaboration with True Digital Park, will see teams compete for a chance to join the three-month programme, during which executives from Centara will provide regular consultation sessions and be the judge for the teams’ final pitch.

“The world of hospitality is always evolving, and we are proud to be a part of this competition to encourage fresh ideas which will drive innovation in our industry. We are delighted to partner with True Digital Park to support promising startup businesses in Thailand and to mentor the next generation of innovative thinkers,” said Centara Hotels & Resorts chief executive officer Thirayuth Chirathivat.

“True Digital Park continue to build a complete ecosystem for startup and tech entrepreneurs to support the digital transformation and is proud to partner with Centara Hotels and Resorts. This startup sandbox program will strengthen our commitment to nurture tech talents and further accelerate innovative solutions,”  commented True Digital Park general manager Dr Tarit Nimmanwudipong.

Competing teams for the ‘Centara Startup Sandbox’ have to deal with a challenge: “How might we help clients experience their preferred destination or any hospitality offering while still providing them with more exclusive and memorable services”.

The winning team will receive THB100,000 and free use of co-working space at True Digital Park for six months. The first and second runners-up will each receive free use of co-working space at True Digital Park for three months.

Winning teams will also receive hotel vouchers from Centara.

1st Prize: Centara Reserve Samui, two nights in Deluxe Ocean room with breakfast for two persons, value THB23,775 per prize times three prizes per team

2nd Prize: Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, two nights in Deluxe room with breakfast for two persons, value  THB12,947 per prize times three prizes per team

3rd Prize: COSI Pattaya Wong Amat Beach, two nights in COSI Plus room with daily credit for two persons value THB3,295 per prize times three prizes per team

Teams with at least three members of any nationality 18 years old and above who have a business idea for the hotel and hospitality industry can apply now until 6 September 2021 at truedigitalpark.typeform.com.

For more information, visit https://www.truedigitalpark.com/en/startup-support/centara-startup-sandbox

Source: TTR Weekly

Destination Mekong arranged the monthly MeTAG Education & Research Group meeting on August 2, 2021

On August 2, there was a productive monthly meeting of the MeTAG Education & Research Group organized by Destination Mekong and facilitated by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office discussing some upcoming projects and synergies between the other Expert Groups to create potentials tourism recovery projects.
The group has also recently launched the survey. To all tourism and hospitality business owners and executives, please support the MeTAG Education and Research Expert Group by completing this survey via this link https://bit.ly/MeTag-edu.
This project aims to launch a consultation on the industry’s emerging needs regarding human capital and opportunities for enhanced collaboration between businesses and education stakeholders.
The survey will be available until 31. August 2021.
For more details about Education & Research Group, please visit https://www.destinationmekong.com/expert-group/education-research/