Destination Mekong and Siem Reap Tourism Club Successfully Co-hosted the first Destination Siem Reap Networking Day

28 March 2023, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Destination Mekong and Siem Reap Tourism Club joined hands to host the first Destination Siem Reap networking event dedicated to sustainable and smart tourism.  

On 25 March 2023, Destination Mekong (DM) and Siem Reap Tourism Club (STC) co-hosted their first Destination Siem Reap networking day under the theme ‘Together Smarter Stronger’.   

Designed as a creative and interactive event, Destination Siem Reap was primarily dedicated to the community of professionals in travel, tourism, hospitality and related sectors, especially existing and potential members/partners of DM and STC. It mainly aimed to promote business collaborations and public-private partnerships and help generate tourism income and job opportunities in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and more widely in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.  

Destination Mekong and Siem Reap Tourism Club also intended to facilitate a dynamic and inclusive platform to share stories, experiences, and good practices while giving a voice to those too often excluded from mainstream conversations.  

Destination Siem Reap took place under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia and was sponsored by AZ Group as key partner, and Sathapana Bank. This local networking day was the first joint action of DM and STC, giving life to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they had signed during the 2022 Destination Mekong Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  

The Destination Siem Reap program’s main part occurred in the morning at Memoire Angkor Palace. It started with a multiplayer networking breakfast in the garden followed by a workshop featuring two sessions on 1. Promoting Siem Reap as a Sustainable Tourism Destination, and 2. Promoting Siem Reap as a Smart Tourism Destination.    

After opening remarks by Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong and Philip Kao, President of Siem Reap Tourism Club, Mr Sieng Neak, Deputy Director-General of the Tourism Development and International Cooperation Department of the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, gave congratulatory remarks. Mr Erkan Bilal, Managing Director of AZ Group, then gave a speech before the signing of the MoU between Destination Mekong and AZ Group. Through this MoU, both parties expressed their will to ‘align their visions and core values and enter into a strategic collaboration towards promoting travel, ECO-Tourism, sustainable projects and hospitality of Mekong Region at local, regional & global levels and in other related fields’. 

During the two morning sessions, ten speakers from a variety of backgrounds shared their positive experiences and inspiring stories to stimulate sustainable tourism recovery and resilience in Siem Reap. Ms. Katrine Solhaug, Owner and General Manager of Babel Guesthouse, explained how her business succeeded in surviving the COVID pandemic. She also raised concerns over noise pollution issues in Siem Reap and insisted that the support of the public sector was crucial to solving them. Ms. Sophany Mao, Director of Spoons Cambodia Organization, which provides hospitality training to disadvantaged young Cambodians, mentioned the difficulty of securing funds to train enough students in spite of many applications. 

Other speakers were (by alphabetical order):  

  • Clemy Balasoto, Founder & CEO of The Better Cambodia, who introduced the latest trends in e-marketing and how Siem Reap business can be prepared;  
  • Ty Chea, Head of Sales, Urban Living Solutions, who shared his love for Siem Reap and encouraged all to join the ‘We Love Siem Reap Campaign’;  
  • Jean-Pierre Gagnon, DCEO of Sathapana Bank, spoke about the key role of FINTECH as an important mechanism to support sustainable tourism development and briefly presented the cutting-edge services offered by Sathapana bank;  
  • Vannak Hang, General Manager of Angkor Green Gardens by Dara, talked about the property as a smart and eco-friendly accommodation;  
  • Nicolas Hatz, Tourism Development Expert at GIZ ICONE, highlighted the findings of a recent GIZ study on travel trends and travellers’ profiles in Siem Reap, urging all local operators to take advantage of it,  
  • Philippe Kao, President of STC, stressed the importance of working together and actions over words, as well as addressing labour shortage with a training project initiated by STC through funding from the Cambodian Ministry of Finance;  
  • and Torsten Munther, Managing Director of Fair Trade Village who stressed the necessity to include older people in the local tourism workforce and especially when t comes to handicrafts, so that they can also get a sustainable income and participate in community development and empowerment efforts.  

The workshop was attended by 120 representatives from the public and private sectors, including high-level officials from the Ministry of Tourism, travel operators and agents, accommodation and travel experience providers, tourism-related social enterprises, investors, developers, representatives of the academia, international development organisations and NGOs, consultants, media representatives, etc.   

In the afternoon, participants were offered the opportunity to join a two-hour cycling tour co-organized by LoLei Travel and EHT Paul Dubrule and visit handicraft workshops. This dense networking day ended with an evening party at Spoons Restaurant and Café, where guests celebrated the WWF Earth Hour 2023 with candlelight to raise awareness about the importance of saving energy.  

One of the highlights of the event was Destination Mekong’s signature cocktail, Mekong Morning, which was served to the panellists of the workshop and to all guests at the evening party.   

Philip Kao, President of STC, stressed that ‘we all know that a dream without action is a fantasy and cannot be true! That’s the reason why we are here!’  

Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of DM, mentioned that ‘to achieve tourism recovery and resilience, building trust and strong connections is crucial. Through our networking events and together with our partners, we are willing to help the industry regain confidence and bet on cooperation rather than competition. She added that it was vital to transform intentions and ambitions into concrete actions.  

(picture by Sam OL, Siem Reap Tourism Club)


Conference for responsible and conscious travel in Cambodia

Object: Press release of the conference for responsible and conscious travel in Cambodia on March 22nd, 2023

This Wednesday, March 22nd 2023, the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, All Dreams Cambodia, and Teuk Saat 1001 have organized a press conference to enhance a more conscious travel experience; they explained how All Dreams Cambodia is working on calculating, reducing and compensating its carbon footprint and its clients one to encourage the tourism industry in Cambodia into a more sustainable sector and join the battle against climate change.

As the conference took place during World Water Day, they honoured the achievements made so far by Teuk Saat 1001 in the access to safe drinking water in rural Cambodia and the contribution made by All Dreams Cambodia to reduce the impact of Climate Change.

Teuk Saat 1001 mission’, as a Cambodian NGO, is to improve the health and livelihoods of rural communities by establishing a decentralized communal-based solution called water kiosks providing safe and affordable drinking water. The water kiosk model, in operation since 2005, non-only strengthens access to safe water in rural Cambodia but is also proven to reduce Co2 emissions since around 17000t are avoided yearly. The drinking water production process, combined with the delivery of water jugs at home, allows Teuk Saat 1001 to be eligible for carbon finance. Indeed, since the beneficiaries receive water at home, they don’t have to boil it with charcoal or wood to make it safe for consumption.

Teuk Saat 1001 is proud to be among the few organizations emitting carbon credit globally from and for a Cambodian project since 2017.

All Dreams Cambodia was founded in 2013 by four travel specialists passionate about promoting Cambodia as an attractive standalone tourism destination. As a Destination Management Company (DMC), All Dreams Cambodia has been offering authentic and bespoke travel experiences and programs to our clients while trying our best to transform our good intentions into actions.

From the beginning, All Dreams Cambodia has always made a point to contribute positively to the socioeconomic development of our beloved country while preserving its precious natural and cultural heritage.

As All Dreams Cambodia is fully aware of the negative impacts tourism activities might have on people and the planet, All Dreams Cambodia is advocating for responsible behaviours and sustainable practices to its staff, partners, suppliers and guests.

Their sustainability endeavours are a constant work in progress and won’t fulfil our dreams of a better world alone. Therefore, All Dreams Cambodia joined hands with partners like Teuk Saat 1001 to compensate their carbon footprint and clients by buying carbon credits from Teuk Saat project’ that will directly benefit Cambodia and the rural communities.

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.”



Mekong Tourism Collaboration

Tourism in the Mekong Region is steered collaboratively by a public-private framework between the public and private sectors.

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, which is the secretariat of the Tourism Working Group, and Destination Mekong, which is the destination marketing organization led by private sector partners, are both managing initiatives aligned to the GMS Tourism Strategy to create a sustainable and inclusive environment to support businesses and communities in the Mekong Region and provide benefits for all stakeholders – residents, travelers, and businesses.

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Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia recently launched a video advertising Khmer food by connecting potential tourism targets across the country.
Under the program of strengthening the trade in the field of tourism (TCBP), it receives financial assistance from the French Development Agency (AFD), led by the Ministry of Tourism and many strategies that will be giving continuously contributed to the developments of the current affairs.
This video reveals Khmer food with local important ingredients, connect with the potential of tourism targets to promote tourism activities for the domestic and international market.

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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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