Destination Mekong Announces 16 Candidates for its Executive Board Elections

19 May 2022, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Destination Mekong has launched its campaign to elect its first Executive Board as part of its journey toward building a unified and resilient tourism industry in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Since the incorporation of Destination Mekong as a full-fledged company in January 2022, its Executive Team has worked hard on consolidating the organization, driving membership, building partnerships, and exploring funding opportunities.

As a continuation, Destination Mekong has now launched the campaign to elect its new Executive Board during its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 03 June 2022. The AGM will be held in a hybrid format and open to members, representatives of partners, and non-members. It will include the confirmation of the DM Charter and the election of a new Executive Board by voting members (Changemakers), with eight seats available in the first year.

The list of candidates for the Executive Board is composed of 16 professionals with impressive backgrounds in travel, tourism, and hospitality in Asia, highly committed to sustainable development and local community empowerment in the Mekong region: 

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. Hailin Zhang, Professor at Guilin Tourism University

Mr. Jacques Guichandut, Managing Director | All Dreams Cambodia Co. Ltd.

Mr. Jean Claude Dhuez, Owner | Sâmata

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

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

Mr. Miquel Angel Perez Martorell, Founder | MQL Sustainable Tourism Services

Dr. Neal F. Bermas, Founder | STREETS International

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

Mr. Nick Ray, Principal at Hanuman Films. Lonely Planet Writer for Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Tourism Consultant with the World Bank

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

Mr. Sean Too, Chief Eco Consultant | Sentinel Solution Thailand Co Ltd

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

Dr. Soriya Yin, Associate Professor, Environmental Science | American University of Phnom Penh

The profiles of candidates can be consulted here:

Besides the elected members, the DM Executive Board will also include Dr. Jens Thraenhart, as the founder of Destination Mekong, Mr. Willem Niemeijer, in his role as past Chair of the Interim Board of Directors, and representatives of the largest private-sector supporters of Destination Mekong, including a permanent seat for its founding contributor UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies.

Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong, stressed that “these are challenging yet exciting times for Destination Mekong and its growing community of members, partners, and supporters. To create impact and value for all, we will not only need coordination, cooperation, and innovation but also motivation, dedication, and compassion. The candidates to our Executive Board all have these qualities, together with being true changemakers and role models”.  

Dr. Jens Thraenhart, Founder of Destination Mekong and former Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), praised the list of candidates and stressed that “the new DM Executive Board will contribute to the success of the mission of Destination Mekong and its innovative strategies, models and operations. One of the reasons for establishing Destination Mekong was to foster a strong and balanced public-private-partnership framework to boost tourism recovery and resilience in the GMS aligned to the Tourism Strategy”.   

Willem Niemeijer, Chairman of the interim board and CEO of Yaana Ventures, and Michael Marshall, Vice-Chair of the Interim Board and CCO of Minor Hotels, commented on the high quality of the list and are looking forward to handing over their board positions to the new members.

Up to one day before the elections, 2 June 2022, all professionals active in the Greater Mekong Subregion and interested in being part of building a sustainable, inclusive, and united regional tourism destination can become Changemakers (Full voting Members) at a special launch rate. 

To become a Destination Mekong Member, please go to:

Besides its existing initiatives, Destination Mekong will prioritize the execution of the new Mekong Tourism Recovery Communications Plan, starting with the release of the much-expected Mekong Stories book in June.


Destination Mekong Opens the Call for Nominations to its Board of Directors

17 February 2022, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After commencing operations, Destination Mekong welcomes nominations to its new Executive Board of Directors. 

Destination Mekong, the private-sector-led regional tourism board, aimed at championing the Greater Mekong Subregion as a single sustainable tourism destination, has initiated the process to elect its first Executive Board of Directors. 

During the last meeting of its interim Board of Directors on 3 February 2022, the Executive Team of Destination Mekong announced the timeline and the nomination process for the 2022 elections of its new Board of Directors. The election is a crucial step to establish the private-sector side of the Mekong Tourism Framework consisting of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office as Secretariat of the Tourism Ministries of the Greater Mekong Subregion and Destination Mekong, which is initiating and operating programs to build resilience by supporting a sustainable and inclusive tourism industry.

According to the Charter of Destination Mekong, the Executive Board of Directors is composed of eight elected directors as well as additional appointed and ex-officio directors such as the Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the Founder of Destination Mekong, namely Mr. Jens Thraenhart, and up to six representatives of the main financial contributors.

The Board of Directors will play a crucial leadership role in governing and managing the organization while representing the interests of its members and partners. Directors are elected for a two-year term and are eligible for re-election for a total of three (3) terms. Elections to half of the Board will take place alternating every two years.

The call for nominations to the Executive Board is open to full members from now to 19 March 2022 on Self-nominations are welcomed, and any full member is entitled to run for this board election. As an inclusive organization, Destination Mekong seeks diversity, equality, and balance for its Board and asks any tourism professional in the region to actively participate.

During the same period, Destination Mekong will implement its new annual membership program with three main options: Destination Mekong Insiders (free membership), Changemakers(full members), and Future Players (student members). Changemakers are eligible to stand as candidates for the board and cast votes in the election. They have a say at the Annual General Members Meeting on the programs and initiatives of the organization.

Any individual directly or indirectly engaged or interested in tourism and hospitality may apply for membership in Destination Mekong. Destination Mekong membership is for individuals only to ensure that any tourism and hospitality professional can join. Sponsored memberships can be facilitated for individuals who want to participate actively but cannot cover their fees at the moment. Businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations can opt for partnership packages, including multiple individual memberships and other benefits that create tangible value for businesses.

Until 19 March, annual fees for full individual Changemaker memberships will be USD 60.00 instead of the usual US$ 180.00. Future Player memberships are USD 30.00 instead of USD 90.00 per year. Details on the membership benefits can be found on

At the Annual General Members’ Meeting, scheduled for 21 April, the new Executive Board of Directors will be elected through an online voting platform to ensure confidentiality.

Destination Mekong was registered in January 2022 as a private limited company in Singapore. As its executive offices will be hosted by the Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Destination Mekong will soon incorporate a local entity in Phnom Penh.

On 4 February, an inaugural meeting was organized between Destination Mekong and the Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia, led by H.E. Thong Rathasak, Director General of Tourism Development and International Cooperation at the MoT. The meeting was attended by Catherine Germier-Hamel, the CEO of Destination Mekong, DM Chief Development Officer Gavin Bell, and DM Chief Marketing Officer Gerrit Kruger. 

Ms. Germier-Hamel praised this partnership between the MoT and DM as “a unique and exciting collaboration. Destination Mekong should act as an inclusive, value-added solution provider, primarily focused on developing a set of tangible and intangible benefits to its members”, stressing that “especially in the challenging context of the COVID pandemic, it is crucial to acknowledge and encourage leadership, innovation, cooperation, and positive impact, as part of the efforts to inspire and foster a successful, sustainable recovery of the tourism industry, not only in the Mekong region but also at a global level.”

Jens Thraenhart, Founder of DM and CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing, commented: “I am very happy to see the vision become a reality. I am watching and cheering on from afar. Keep on moving forward, Destination Mekong”. He added, “Destination Mekong can save regional tourism collaboration in The Greater Mekong Subregion, to leverage tourism as a force for good, especially for small enterprises and local communities.”