Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, cautioned that what makes travel in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) one of a kind is now at risk. This includes travel experiences that define the Mekong Region and small businesses that are unique to the subregion.
He was speaking to around 60 travel and hospitality experts at the first Virtual Mekong Tourism Advisory Group Meeting of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) on 19 April 2020. He appealed to the group to come together as an industry, exercise a combination of agility and resilience, and change traditional mindsets as tourism tries to manage and overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
MTCO has developed various initiatives over the past five years. These are designed to drive sustainable tourism, resilience, and inclusive growth, that will now shape part of their recovery strategy. “We have an opportunity to reset tourism and make it more responsible and sustainable in the region. That’s why a balanced tourism recovery that puts stakeholder engagement at the core is now pivotal to achieve success,” said Mr. Thraenhart.
MTCO Presents Recovery Campaign
MTCO represents the tourism interests of countries that have a stake in the Mekong River and its surrounding tourism assets in Cambodia, People’s Republic of China (Yunnan and Guang Xi provinces), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
MTCO’s recovery campaign:
- Support small businesses through the Experience Mekong Collection programme.
- Initiate a survey and open public voting of the 2020 Experience Mekong Collection Showcases, as well as launch a dedicated online community for members of the Experience Mekong Collection.
- Introduce a social media tourism recovery campaign through the platform Mekong Moments.
- Launch a platform called Mekong Deals to facilitate the sale of discounted non-refundable vouchers to get money in the pockets of businesses to help them survive.
- Recognise and inspire the industry through the launch of the new Mekong Heroes programme.
- Share videos from the Mekong Mini Movie Festival campaign to inspire people all over the world.