Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office listed on Apolitical’s Top 75 Most Innovative Organizations in Tourism Policy 2021

Company contributor Mekong Tourism Office

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The global tourism industry supports millions of jobs and businesses around the world and helps to protect and preserve cultural and natural heritage. Yet, even before COVID-19 reshaped the way people travel, governments were seeking solutions to decrease the environmental impact of tourism and increase economic justice for tourism communities.

Now, as global agencies work to rebuild the industry after the pandemic, there are even more challenges in planning for recovery in a safe and effective way. Managing safe and responsible travel during and after the recovery from COVID-19 will require innovation, creativity, and passion; this list seeks to honour and celebrate organisations around the world who are leading the way.

The organisations recognised on this list are public agencies or non-governmental organisations who use policy, programmes, and projects to build creative solutions to challenges. Often these agencies implement solutions that make it easier for governments to leverage private sector speed, technology, scale, and efficiency to accelerate outcomes.

Most importantly, these agencies demonstrate industry leadership, innovate new approaches, and utilise technology and digitisation to create more accessible and equitable tourism communities in one of three primary areas:

  • Planning for industry recovery during and after the pandemic, including through public health efforts, testing, technology, and other initiatives.
  • Driving long-term sustainable investment that helps maximise economic justice and financial inclusion for tourism communities.
  • Improving destination management through implementation of best practices and governance models, particularly by integrating and respecting global cultures and minimising environmental impact.

The list was released in partnership with Mastercard and the United Nations World Tourism Organization during UNWTO’s celebration of Global Tourism Day on 27 September 2021.

The organisations and case studies discovered through the list nominations process will be among those featured in an upcoming virtual study tour, FREE to public servants, to help agencies learn from one another’s work in recovery and tourism programmes.

Organisations were nominated through an open nominations process that included recommendations from individuals, NGOs, organisations, governments, and global leaders. Organisations were ranked and selected by a team of expert reviewers. Where we have highlighted a specific policy or programme, we have also named the responsible team or function of the agency. Finalists are listed in groups of their United Nations region in alphabetical order.

This project is supported by Mastercard and the United Nations World Tourism Organization.


Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office


The collective vision for the Greater Mekong Subregion tourism is aligned with the overarching GMS Strategic Framework 2012–2022 and its vision of an integrated, prosperous, and equitable subregion. The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office has adopted ambitious targets relating to global trends in tourism, such as sustainability, urbanisation, and the sharing economy. Ensuring these objectives are in line with the Paris Agreement and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Its vision, under the leadership of its former Executive Director, Jens Thraenhart, also embraces resilience, partnerships, and knowledge management. The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office aims for tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion that is integrated, prosperous, equitable, and resilient, with effective partnerships and knowledge management.
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