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.”



Destination Mekong aligns with other tourism leaders to sign the Glasgow Declaration on climate action in tourism

18 November 2021, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Destination Mekong became a proud signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism at the COP26.

As part of its efforts to play a leadership role in the global tourism community, Destination Mekong became a signatory and launch partner of the Glasgow Declaration on climate Action in Tourism, which was launched on 4 November 2021 during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).

Founded in 2017, Destination Mekong (DM) is the regional tourism organization dedicated to championing the Mekong region, comprising Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, as a sustainable and inclusive tourism destination.  

The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism unites travel and tourism behind a common set of pathways for climate action, aligning the sector with global commitments and catalyzing collaborative solutions to the many challenges facing businesses and destinations globally.

The Glasgow Declaration encourages the acceleration of climate action in tourism by securing commitments to reduce emissions in tourism by at least 50% over the next decade and achieve Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050.

As a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, Destination Mekong has committed to aligning its actions with the latest scientific recommendations to ensure its approach remains consistent with a rise of no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. It also has agreed to deliver or update climate action plans within 12 months, align programs with the five pathways of the Declaration (Measure, Decarbonise, Regenerate, Collaborate, Finance), report publicly on an annual basis, and work in a collaborative spirit, sharing good practices and solutions, and disseminating information.

 “More than ever, the global tourism industry has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its transformative power through inspiring and driving climate action. It’s not only an emergency but also a matter of human dignity.” Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, CEO, Destination Mekong

The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism brings together the latest research and global expertise to galvanize climate action. It will be hosted within the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme’s website, supported by Recommended Actions for tourism stakeholders across the world to consider as part of their action planning, alongside other resources. As the declaration states: “A just transition to Net Zero before 2050 will only be possible if tourism’s recovery accelerates the adoption of sustainable consumption and production, and redefines our future success to consider not only economic value but rather the regeneration of ecosystems, biodiversity, and communities.”

The need for a globally consistent approach for climate action in tourism has been made clear, notably through research into CO2 emissions carried out by UNWTO/ITF and released at the UNFCCC COP25 in December 2019. This showed that transport-related emissions from tourism were forecast to increase by 25% by 2030 from 2016 levels, against the current ambition scenario.

As the global tourism industry is slowly getting back on track, Destination Mekong (DM) has recently appointed a new Executive Team composed of Catherine Germier-Hamel as CEO, Gerrit Kruger as Chief Marketing Officer, Gavin Bell as Chief Development Officer, and Jens Uwe Parkitny as a strategic advisor, in an honorary capacity, effective 1 November.

This ‘dream team’ was formed by Jens Thraenhart, Founder of Destination Mekong and former Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), before starting a new career as CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

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:

UNWTO launches digital tools to revitalise tourism

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has partnered with MUST Travel & Tech to place a digital tool at the service of tourism, allowing users to share their experiences to promote the reactivation of the sector with a view to sustainability.

Presented during the UNWTO Mayors’ Forum in Porto, Portugal, the tool is an opportunity for the advancement of smart cities, as well as destinations that incorporate technology and innovation in their development. Already operating in 60 countries, MUST aggregates all the information of interest to travellers in one place. By also integrating key information and analysis from UNWTO, it aims to become a leading tourism application and generate opportunities for destinations.

Visibility provided through technological tools is an opportunity for those who, along the entire value chain of the sector, require support to restart their activity, from new destinations around rural communities, to destinations with a high degree of infrastructure development.

“We welcome innovative ideas and technologies that allow the creation of global and regional innovation ecosystems aimed at accelerating the recovery of tourism for development,” said UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili.

CEO of MUST, Pablo López, said: “Technology enhances the productivity and resilience of companies. The implementation of digital solutions in line with new trends in the tourism sector allows us to develop a differentiated, personalized and safe tourism product that is more focused on behaviour patterns and the management of spaces that will undoubtedly contribute to the recovery of a key activity for the economy in general.”

Read the full article at Travel Daily:

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.”


One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector

The One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector builds on the UNWTO Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism released by the Global Tourism Crisis Committee on 28 May 2020 with the objective to support tourism to emerge stronger and more sustainable from the COVID-19 crisis. The vision is shared by the members of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme
and partner organizations.

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UNWTO tracks travel recovery

As more countries around the world start easing travel restrictions, the UNWTO has launched a new tourism recovery tracker to support the sector’s rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Touted as the “most comprehensive tourism dashboard to date”, the tracker is the result of a partnership between the private sector and international organisations, including the ICAO, ForwardKeys, STR, Sojern and AirDNA.

Available for free, it covers key tourism performance indicators by month, regions and sub-regions, allowing for a real-time comparison of the sector recovery across the world and industries.

The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker compiles all the relevant data in one place, giving governments and the private businesses the ability to track the recovery of tourism at global and regional level, alongside information on the top destinations for international tourism.

The tracker includes data on international tourist arrivals, seat capacity in international and domestic air routes, air travel bookings, hotel searches and bookings, occupancy rates and demand for short-term rentals.

According to UNWTO latest World Tourism Barometer, the massive drop in international travel demand over the period from January to June 2020 translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about US$460 billion in export revenues from international tourism. This is around five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and financial crisis.

Virtual Destination Mekong Summit to offer recommendations and insights for travel businesses during COVID-19 to prepare for a balanced tourism recovery

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office is hosting a half-day Virtual Destination Mekong Summit, organized by public-private partnership Destination Mekong, with sponsorship of UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies, under the theme of “Balanced Tourism Recovery for a Better Future”. In order to assist businesses during these challenging times, the registration fee has been waived as a gesture of goodwill.

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TCEB Launches ‘New Normal’ News Portal and Online COVID-19 Resource Centre for MICE Industry

Organisers and stakeholders in business events industry, the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions, and Mega events and Festivals can now take advantage of a real-time news service dedicated to business events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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