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

Catalysing Cambodia’s new tourism future

The pandemic has brought Cambodia’s tourism players together and highlighted the value of a single voice via the Cambodia Tourism Federation (CTF), allowing them to work better with the authorities towards travel and tourism recovery as well future developments, reveals Luu Meng, CTF president, master chef and Almond Group CEO.

Tourism is a key economic driver for Cambodia but Covid has devastated tourism. How are CTF members affected?
Last year, we saw more than 50 per cent of businesses disappear when the pandemic started, as all international arrivals stopped in April. But Phnom Penh, the coast, Kampot and Siem Reap were able to do some business as locals could travel domestically. That continued into January and February.

Then the February 20 Community Event happened (when Covid spread across the country) and most domestic tourism disappeared (due to ongoing restrictions). When you break that down, almost every tour agent had nothing to do. Some have closed for good, some have been spending their savings and extending loans. Those unable to get more loans have been unable to continue.

For hotels, apart from quality hotels, there is almost nothing happening as well, although Kep and Kampot still have a bit of business. Official reports have also shown the restaurant sector has decreased by more than 30 per cent. The restaurant business was already competitive before Covid so it became even more difficult.

Did Covid present any positive opportunities for your members?
Before Covid, Cambodia was always linked to our neighbouring countries. Travellers would visit those countries, and then stay a few nights in Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat only.

The pandemic has given Cambodia the best opportunity to become a destination on its own. We have the beaches, culture, countryside, incredible cuisine, and the charm and hospitality of our locals. Cambodia is full of experiences, and has more than enough to provide travellers who are keen to stay longer.

The private sector is working closely with the government to newly brand and market Cambodia (as a mono destination) and encourage tourists to spent 10 days or two weeks here (as opposed to being a destination in a multi-destination itinerary).

How has the pandemic impacted the strength of CTF’s voice?
Before the pandemic, every association worked on their own and each had difficulty getting members to join. This was because traditionally, many people in the hospitality and tourism industry in Cambodia operate solo and don’t believe in belonging to a group. They didn’t understand the concept of belonging to an association which offered one unified voice, and that their issues and concerns will be represented and taken to the top level.

With the pandemic, people started to realise they needed help from the government and be able to raise issues with them. This is when we realised more people are interested in joining. Rather than Cambodian operators being very independent as they were previously, they are now more united.

What support have you provided members since the start of the pandemic?
We usually have at least one meeting a month, which has so far been held online. We have also invited people from different ministries to attend so we can all stay engaged. We have a Telegram group to make sure everyone stays informed and to give members a place to raise any issues and concerns.

Advocacy has been the main element and it works both ways. If you provide the right channel to raise concerns, it’s also much easier for the government to work with the private sector. Collectively, we have been able to come up with suggestions and options for the government, as choosing between health and safety or the economy is a huge challenge.

The pandemic has brought up many issues within the sector. We have issues spanning compliance, human resource and labour, social and business and marketing. This means we have to work with many different ministries. In good times, there was no chance to take a look at these things but during the last 18 months, we have been working with the government to develop a strategy to have an idea where the tourism and hospitality in Cambodia is going to be in the next five, 10, and 20 years.

Cambodia has excelled in the roll-out of the vaccination programme compared to other countries in South-east Asia. What role does this play in reopening to tourists?
Our CTF members and partners recognise and appreciate our prime minister has done a very good job since the government decided to start vaccinations.

In South-east Asia, Cambodia is second in terms of the percentage of vaccinations given – after Singapore – and we are comparing two countries with populations of six million versus 16 million. More than 90 per cent of adults in Phnom Penh are vaccinated, and this is not something that many cities in the world have yet achieved, so this is a great step for us.

We have been in discussions with the Ministry of Tourism about allowing vaccinated travellers in with minimal or no quarantine. We hope that will become a reality, and on our end, we hope to complete the country’s vaccinations by 4Q2021 so vaccinated tourists can also safely visit.

Cambodia’s tourism industry has lost a lot of skilled people. What needs to be done to build back the sector’s manpower resources?
We need to start preparing now. The Ministry of Tourism is currently unable to conduct any in-person training because of Covid restrictions, but has been holding online programmes on certain issues to retrain the people.

We are also requesting that the government creates a fund as soon as possible that will go towards retraining and refreshing the skills of previous tourism employees who have left the sector. Most of them wanted to remain in the hospitality sector, but have been away for more than a year now working in the agriculture and construction sectors as there is still work to be found there.

What has Cambodia capitalised on this downtime and what differences can visitors expect when they return?
The 38 Roads project has started in Siem Reap. The project comprises huge infrastructure improvements that are being carried out while no tourists are there. There is also a lot of effort being put into developing eco-tourism and new experiences related to that.

Meanwhile, the capital is changing quickly in a positive way, the coastline is developing and we have new airports planned. But the charm of the people has not changed, and that’s what makes Cambodia so attractive; it’s in our DNA.

Source: https://www.ttgasia.com/2021/07/15/catalysing-cambodias-new-tourism-future/

Avani Hotels In Thailand Unveil New Hybrid Meetings Solutions

With remote and hybrid work becoming the new normal at the workplace, Avani Hotels & Resorts in Thailand are introducing a host of technology-based MICE products to make the transition to a more digital environment as seamless as possible.

With demand for ZOOM, Microsoft Teams and other video calling apps on the rise, Avani has expanded into digital services to offer event planners such solutions as online attendee management, interactive polling, rental of live streaming equipment and services of a dedicated on-site technical team.

Available packages range from “Mini Meet” with up to 10 on-site attendees and 100 online participants to “Conference Pro” with 50 on-site and 500 online participants, six guest speakers and multiple 4K cameras. Creative production services such as digital backdrop design and waiting room visuals are also available, allowing event organisers to plan their inter-connected events efficiently. Allow Avani’s meeting professionals to handle all the technical aspects of the hybrid meeting. On-site participants will enjoy traditional hospitality in the form of theme coffee breaks and meeting spaces designed to inspire.

Read more at https://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/4105360.html?utm_source=pocket_mylist

UNWTO launches hospitality recruitment platform

Job-seekers are able to create a profile, search for positions that match their experience and skills, and set up job alerts to be informed of the latest opportunities. The platform also helps tourism businesses and organisations to find and recruit the best talent.

All of UNWTO’s 159 member states will be invited to use the Jobs Factory as their national tourism recruitment platform, as will its more than 500 affiliate members, ranging from businesses to universities and think tanks.

Additionally, through the Jobs of the Future Observatory, member states can also monitor current and future skills development to analyse trends. This will allow them to forecast and identify gaps and mismatches and make data-driven decisions.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The pandemic has hit global tourism hard. Up to 120 million jobs are at risk. However, tourism has a long history of adapting and embracing innovation. The Jobs Factory will be a great help to the millions of people who depend on tourism. It connects employers with the very best talent our sector has to offer. And it will help our member states make important decisions based on the latest, trusted data.”

Source: https://www.ttgasia.com/2021/06/18/unwto-launches-hospitality-recruitment-platform/

Food charity drive with chefs and gastronomy members

The chefs and volunteers from several culinary-related associations, restaurants and hotels came together recently to do their bit to help needy families and people severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Headed by Master Chef Luu Meng, the CEO and Founder of Almond Hospitality, they also distributed food to volunteer doctors and health offices at Covid-19 vaccination centres, construction workers and road sweepers around the Sisowath Quay and palace areas.

The two-day charity activity carried out on Friday and Monday was in appreciation of their dedication to go about their duties during this pandemic.

It involved two-day cooking of food which was packed in 410 boxes consisting of 500grammes each of Cambodian all-time favourite dish “Prahoc Ktis” (fermented fish, minced pork, pea eggplants and coconut milk with help from local NGO, Mudhita Foundation for distribution.Each box can feed up to eight people.

On Friday, the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia (ACAC) gave 300 boxes of cooked food while Sevensea Seafood Restaurant provided 110 boxes on Monday.  To top it off, a donation of cartons of Ogeu still mineral water from the Pyrenees, France was given with the gourmet meal.

Princess Norodom Arunrasmy, the founder of Mudhita Foundation, also participated in the cooking and preparation of the food boxes with the chefs on Friday at ACAC.

“We can’t help everyone, but we hope that with the cooking of this popular Khmer dish by our chefs and volunteers, infused with their love and kindness, we can together make a difference and bring some cheer to their lives,” said Meng who is the president of the Cambodian Tourism Federation.

The people and associations who made the charity event a reality were Disciple Escoffier Cambodia Association, Cambodia Chefs Society, ACAC, Cambodia Restaurants Association, Cambodia Chaîne des Rôtisseurs members,  Sun and Moon Hotel, World Dining Restaurant, Malis Restaurant, Uy Kuyteav Restaurant, Preah Srey of Anvarman Museum and Ogeu Groupe – Ogeu Eaux Minérales.

Source: https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50866529/food-charity-drive-with-chefs-and-gastronomy-members/

Sampran Riverside

Located on a 70-acre plot along the Tha Chin River,
Sampran Riverside (formerly known as the Rose Garden)
is a family-run eco cultural destination; now famous for its
wide range of sustainable initiatives and its sustainable
business model.

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The Linden Centre

Floating above the pristine rice and canola fields north of
the old town of Dali is a beautiful courtyard compound
built in 1947 by a wealthy entrepreneur from the Bai ethnic
group named Yang Pinxiang. Over seven decades, the
building, which is located in the historic Xizhou Village,
went through many changes, from being privately owned
to becoming public property after the Cultural Revolution
and land reforms, and from serving as an army barracks
and military hospital to housing a kindergarten. In 2001, it
was designated as a national heritage site. The courtyard
finely captures the exquisite architectural style of the Bai
ethnic group that predominantly lives in the area. This
compound is now a boutique hotel managed and run by
an American couple, Brian and Jeanee Linden, who have
injected new life and respect into this important heritage

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How Marriott International is leading the way in sustainable hospitality

Tired of all the industry lip service to sustainability, Anne Lim-Chaplain travels all the way to Bangkok to check out Marriott International’s hotels, which are truly making a difference.

“I’m so sick of it!” That line from Jo March in Greta Gerwig’s 2019 period drama Little Women is stuck in my head. I’m so sick of the heartbreaking impact of climate change on every living being on Earth. I’m so angry about the uncontrollable bushfires as a consequence of extreme weather conditions that are destroying beautiful lives, creatures and nature. I’m so tired of the damage done to our oceans. I’m so fed up with the injustice, waste and poverty in the world.

We are living through a global environmental crisis, but there is hope. People are demanding change – and businesses must help lead the way. One such organisation is Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel company, with 30 brands in 132 countries, more than 7,000 hotels and some 133 million members. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, it has more than 780 properties. Just imagine the difference this hotel chain can make by using their size and scale as a force for good, and by finding innovative ways to operate more sustainably and responsibly.


And that’s just what it’s doing. In 2017, Marriott International launched its sustainability and social-impact platform – Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction. Through Serve 360, the company is committed to serving the local communities where they do business. By 2025, it aims to decrease waste to landfills by 45 percent, cut food waste by 50 percent, and reduce water and carbon intensity by 15 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

“Travellers are increasingly concerned about the impact of tourism on the destinations they visit, so it’s important that we are transparent with our sustainability efforts and how we’re progressing,” says Craig S. Smith, Group President, Marriott International Asia Pacific. “We’ve made some great strides in advancing sustainability in Asia-Pacific over the last two years, and we will continue to positively impact the communities and environments in which we operate.”

Recently, I was able to experience the exceptional hospitality and sustainability initiatives at the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel. I loved my beautifully appointed suite and all the food-and-beverage outlets were outstanding. More than that, though, I was impressed by the team’s passion and commitment to sustainability efforts in a number of areas, including sourcing responsibly and locally, reducing food waste and serving the community. To reduce food waste,the culinary team, headed by executive chef Michael Hogan and senior executive sous chef Daniel Bucher, launched the “Second Love” concept at Goji Kitchen + Bar, which aims to make use of all those ingredients that would otherwise be sent to landfill. From the moment we arrived at the hotel in an electric Mercedes-Benz, it was a hands-on experience as we made our own Second Love welcome cocktail with pineapple peels.

Pineapple skin contains active yeasts and bacteria, so the chefs ferment it to create a delicious pineapple vinegar. Every week, the team slices 150 kilograms of pineapples, resulting in 85 kilograms of pineapple peel. After four weeks of fermentation and another four weeks of ageing, they produce 50 litres of wonderful pineapple vinegar, which is a key ingredient in the hotel’s signature pineapple and passionfruit gin cocktail.

In the evening, we picked our own herbs from the hotel’s herb garden and collected our own organic eggs. It was a joy to learn how to cook delicious, healthy zero-waste meals with Chef Daniel and Chef Michael.

On average, the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel contributes 37.5 kilograms of food per day to the Scholars of Sustenance Foundation Thailand (SOS) network, which redistributes meals to those in need in Bangkok. We had the opportunity to visit Father Joe’s Mercy Centre, one of the recipients of the Marriott’s food via SOS, to see first-hand how this relationship not only nourishes the children in this centre, but also provides for the entire family unit as the children bring the food home, too. It’s no wonder that Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel became the first urban five-star hotel in the world to receive the Pledge on Food Waste certification; it continues to work towards the company’s goal to achieve zero-waste to landfill.

Read more: https://hashtaglegend.com/culture/ready-new-view-for-the-new-year-marriott-international/

Virtual Destination Mekong Summit provides actionable insights for travel and tourism industry during COVID-19




Virtual Destination Mekong Summit provides actionable insights for travel and tourism industry during COVID-19

Session videos now available online to watch for free

Bangkok, September 8, 2020: The 1st Destination Mekong Summit was organized virtually by UNWTO Affiliate Member Strategies as a lead partner of Destination Mekong in partnership with the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office on 25 August 2020. Nearly 1,500 registered attendees from over 100 countries joined the virtual conference on Zoom with an additional 500 following the live stream on YouTube and the event website.

“With the topic “Balanced Tourism Recovery for a Better Future”, the Summit had the objective to answer burning questions, offer actionable suggestions on how to survive these challenging times, and best prepare for an accelerated recovery.”, explained Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, and chair of the summit.  Speakers from the public and private sectors included Tourism Ministers and CEOs from travel companies, academia, the media, and NGOs, as well as members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG).

With a condensed content concept, DMS was structured in twelve short chapters starting with insights about “The Disruption” by Dr. Simon Hudson, from the University of South Carolina, author of the upcoming book “COVID-19 & Travel”. The former Ministers of Tourism of Thailand and Myanmar, H.E. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat and H.E. Mr. Htay Aung respectively, engaged in a discussion about learnings from past crisis, moderated by Mr. Xu Jing, former Director of Asia Pacific of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). This discussion was followed by a panel of senior government officials moderated by Mr. Steven Schipani of the Asian Development Bank, including Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism of Cambodia,  Dr. Sieu Ha Van, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, and Mr. Sounh Manivong, Director General of the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism of Lao PDR. Learnings about domestic tourism opening in China by representatives from the private sector and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of PR China, as well as recommendations about communications by Deputy Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr. Tanes Petsuwan and Chief Commercial Officer of Minor Hotels, Mr. Michael Marshall provided action-oriented insights. The following chapters looked into recovery efforts and opportunities for governments, key source markets with a focus on Japan by JTB and China by Dragon Trail, the hotel and aviation sectors as key industry pillars by IATA and STR respectively, and the impact on sustainability moderated by GSTC. Two sessions were conducted in partnership with Horwath HTL and presented key takeaways for businesses.

The final chapters addressed how collaboration can help businesses in the recovery discussing strategies with Accor and Yaana Ventures, as well as a look at the future with Dr. Ian Yeoman, author of “Tourism Futures” from the Victoria University of Wellington.

A summary chapter was lead by Prof. Geoffrey Lipman from The SunX Program with global and regional tourism leaders including H.E. Ms. Gloria Guevera, CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), H.E. Ms. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, former Minister of Tourism and sports of Thailand, H.E. Dr. Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and Dr. Mario Hardy, CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). The panel debated the need for balanced tourism recovery and the integration of climate change as an existential threat post COVID-19.

The Virtual Destination Mekong Summit was also the launch-pad of the Mekong Memories campaign and Mekong Deals platform, as well as the announcement of the 2020 Experience Mekong Showcases and the 1st Mekong Hero recognition to Ms. Potjana Suansri, founder of the Thailand Community-based Tourism Institute.

The Virtual Destination Mekong Summit was co-emceed by Dr. Jutamas Wisangsing, former chair of PATA Thailand, and Mr. Jens Thraenhart, out of a pop-up studio at co-working space Gaysorn Village in Bangkok, Thailand.

Details of the event, as well as recordings of the sessions, can be found at https://www.destinationmekong.com/dms2020/.

About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office:

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), located in Bangkok, was set up with funding from the governments of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries – Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The MTCO, which operates on annual financial contributions from each GMS country, acts as the secretariat for the GMS Tourism Working Group, comprising of senior officials of the six GMS countries’ National Tourism Organizations, to coordinate and facilitate sustainable tourism development of the GMS, and promotion of the Mekong region as a single travel and tourism destination, in collaboration with the public and private sectors. The MTCO manages its award-winning MekongTourism.org digital platform as a one-stop platform to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the region, as well as the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, whose hosting is rotated among GMS countries.

Please visit www.MekongTourism.org for more information.



About Destination Mekong:

Destination Mekong was created in 2017 to promote the Lancang-Mekong region, comprising of Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam as a single tourism destination to stimulate responsible and sustainable development and investment, and drive inclusive growth. Endorsed by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and aligned with the mandate of the regional collaborative tourism framework of the six-member governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Destination Mekong executes targeted projects and initiatives, including Mekong Moments, Mekong Mini Movie Festival, Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST), Experience Mekong Collection, Mekong Heroes, and Mekong Trends, with feedback from the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) and via public-private partnership investment structure, led by UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies.

More information at: www.DestinationMekong.com




The 4th Info-graph of the COVID-19 Travel Situation in the Mekong Region as of July 13, 2020, giving a brief summary of travel restrictions in Cambodia, PR China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

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