Human Impact Stories

Mekong Heroes

Showcasing inspiring individuals

There are leaders that have made a significant contribution to developing tourism sustainability in the Lancang-Mekong Region. These individual might be CEOs or senior government officials, or they might be entrepreneurs or small business owners. What these people have in common is their vision, commitment, dedication, and passion. We call these individuals Mekong Heroes.


Being nominated to be a Mekong Hero is a tremendous honor, and all our Mekong Heroes join the Hall of Heroes, to inspire others to walk in their footsteps.


Via interviews, we are showcasing these people, telling their stories, and explaining what drives them to do what they do.


Nominate a Mekong Hero

1st Mekong Hero 2020

On 25 August 2020, the first Mekong Hero was announced at the Destination Mekong Summit 2020. Chosen from a list of nominated individuals and reviewed by members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group as well as the Mekong Governments, Ms. Potjana Suansri is the first Mekong Hero. 

Ms. Potjana Suansri

Founder, Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I)

Potjana Suansri, founder of Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I) is one of the true pioneers of community based tourism in Asia and the world. She has worked tirelessly, and practically, for over 30 years, towards greater local community participation and benefit from tourism. Her work, both as a thought leader and practical field worker started decades before ‘CBT’ and ‘local experiences’ gained mainstream support in public and private sectors. During this time, Potjana maintained an unwavering focus on learning by doing, and demonstrating how to drive tourism benefits to local communities. This work was conducted irrespective of funding trends and access to resources.

Now, Potjana works for the UN International Trade Center (ITC), continuing her work for the benefit of local communities, tourism businesses and tourists. As ever, she is a modest, generous person who is happy to work hard in the background and does not prioritize self-promotion. However, her true role as a pioneer, thought and action leader for local benefits in ASEAN tourism, paving the way for later government, private sector, academic and NGO programs is massive.

Without Potjana’s work, there is no doubt that our whole region would have far less knowledge about how to do CBT well. Potjana Suansri absolutely deserves recognition and appreciation as a true Mekong Hero.

How you can support it

Nominate an individual that has made a difference in making a significant contribution to the responsible development of travel and tourism in the region.

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