Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 17, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / Destination Mekong is strengthening its executive capacities towards playing a leading role in the post COVID tourism recovery in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). As the global tourism industry is slowly getting back on track, Destination Mekong (DM) is taking a new step as the regional tourism organization dedicated to championing the Lancang-Mekong region, comprising of Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, as a sustainable and inclusive tourism destination.
Destination Mekong officially introduced its new Executive Team at the beginning of the 2021 Destination Mekong Summit, which took place online on 21 and 22 October 2021, under the theme of “Re-start > Re- form > Re-balance”.
On this occasion, Jens Thraenhart, Founder of Destination Mekong and former Executive Director the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), presented the four members of the DM “Dream Team”:
Catherine Germier-Hamel, Gerrit Kruger, Gavin Bell, and Jens Uwe Parkitny, which all had the opportunity to share their visions and passions in taking their new responsibilities.
Thraenhart stressed that the new Executive Team was “truly world-class and made of experts in their fields, to make sure Destination Mekong can grow and aid the acceleration of the recovery in the Mekong Region”.
He stated that his “proudest accomplishment was to set up a private sector-led regional tourism board with innovative and award-winning programs and initiatives, to execute the mandate of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) to foster public-private sector cooperation.” On 1 November, Jens Thraenhart started a new career as CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Meet the new Executive Team of Destination Mekong
The appointment of Catherine Germier-Hamel as Chief Executive Officer, Gerrit Kruger as Chief Marketing Officer, and Gavin Bell as Chief Development Officer was effective 1 November. Jens Uwe Parkitny is acting as a strategic advisor in an honorary capacity.
Germier-Hamel, a Eurasian born in France with family heritage from the Mekong region, has lived in Seoul, South Korea, since 2005. Over the past 15 years, she has developed an international career as sustainable tourism development and marketing consultant, and impact entrepreneur.
Gerrit Kruger, a German national, has been involved in the management of Destination Mekong since its creation in 2017 while serving as Managing Director of Chameleon Strategies, an innovative Strategy Think Tank, and an Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
Since 2018, Gavin Bell, a British citizen, gained expertise over nearly 30 years of working with governments, international organizations, and the private sector on sustainable tourism initiatives based in Phnom Penh and working with the Ministry of Tourism.
Jens Uwe Parkitny, German, is a well-known tourism executive who has worked for prominent travel and hospitality brands in the Asia Pacific Region. He is the co-owner of Loikaw Lodge by the Lake in Myanmar.
Destinations Mekong setting up the next steps to fulfill its mission
Destination Mekong is currently in the process of being incorporated as a legal entity in Singapore. Its executive office will be hosted by the Ministry of Tourism of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DM and the Ministry of Tourism, which will also assign local staff.
Over the following months, the Executive Team will focus its efforts on building a strong community of individual, corporate and institutional members and raising funds to support its operations. Its short-term action plan also includes the publication of the Experience Mekong Collection, showcasing responsible and sustainable travel experiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion, and implementing value-added services and solutions to enhance the exposure of its members.
Additionally, Destination Mekong will develop strategic partnerships with organizations sharing the same values and interests. As a start, Destination Mekong has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO), to develop mutual tourism collaboration between the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion and 20 Pacific Island countries (PICs), based on sharing information, knowledge, and best practices to foster sustainable and inclusive tourism.
During the 2021 DM Summit, the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Tourism Recovery Communications Plan “Unlimited Experiences, Unlimited Stories” was also unveiled, establishing a framework for the activities of Destination Mekong.
Committed to playing a leadership role within the global tourism community, Destination Mekong became a proud signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism launched on 4 November 2021 during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). 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.
The new CEO of Destination Mekong, Catherine Germier-Hamel, states that “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.”
About Destination Mekong
Destination Mekong (DM) was created in 2017 by private stakeholders of the travel and tourism industry of the Mekong region (GMS) to promote the Greater Mekong Subregion, comprising of Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, as a single destination.
The overarching purpose of Destination Mekong is to champion the Mekong region as a sustainable and inclusive tourism destination. Over the past years, it has spearheaded innovative and inclusive collaboration within the public and private sectors across the six Mekong countries to inspire and engage travelers and stakeholders through authentic experiences and stories.
The core mission of Destination Mekong is to create engaging programs and solutions that build capacity, are inclusive, and promote sustainable economic development and understanding of the diversity and uniqueness of the region, contributing to social equality and poverty reduction.
Endorsed by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office in Thailand and aligned with the mandate of the regional collaborative tourism framework of the six-member governments of the Greater Mekong Sub- region, Destination Mekong has executed targeted projects and initiatives, including Mekong Moments, Mekong Memories, Mekong Deals, Mekong Mini Movie Festival, Mekong Innovative Start-ups in Tourism (MIST), Experience Mekong Collection, Mekong Heroes, and Mekong Trends, with feedback from the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) and via public-private partnership investment structure, led by UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies.