Shortlist for Experience Mekong Showcases Announced

Shortlist for Experience Mekong Showcases Announced

Bangkok, Thailand, February 21, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / Created four years ago in September 2017 to both recognize and encourage sustainable and responsible tourism development, 72 Experience Mekong Collection (EMC) member businesses have been shortlisted – ten from each of the six GMS member countries plus the two finalists from last year that did not win – to determine the final six businesses to be recognized for the third annual Experience Mekong Showcases via public voting, announced at the 2nd Virtual Destination Mekong Summit in May 2021. The “Experience Mekong Collection” curates small, responsible, and sustainable travel businesses in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), endorsed by members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group and is a collection of inspirational, rewarding, and authentic experiences that minimize negative impacts and generate greater benefits for the people of the GMS and enhance the well-being of host communities. This year’s shortlisted businesses were each examined in great detail regarding their practices, tangible impact on the environment and social climate, innovation, and financial viability.

Each business needs to fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Make a significant social impact on its community
  2. Provide an authentically local experience positioning the GMS as a responsible, inclusive, and experiential tourism destination.
  3. Have an innovative concept and sustainable business model.

“The importance of responsible tourism cannot be underestimated and the ‘Experience Mekong Collection’ is a wonderful way of highlighting examples of good practice. Social enterprises have the potential to drive sustainable tourism and to promote the Mekong Region as an experiential and responsible travel destination. We aim to tell their stories to inspire travelers to experience these “stars of the Mekong,” said Mr. Jens Thraenhart,  Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO).

In January 2020, at the FITUR travel trade show in Madrid, Spain, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) featured the Experience Mekong Collection as a global best practice on tourism aligned to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Experience Mekong Collection program is aligned to our Mekong Heroes program, part of our Mekong Responsible Travel mandate. During these challenging times, to support our small responsible travel businesses and protect the fragile tourism ecosystem of the Greater Mekong Subregion, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, together with Destination Mekong, last year launched the “Support Experience Mekong Collection Businesses”.

During this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are afraid that many small businesses are struggling, and some may not survive. What makes travel in the Greater Mekong Subregion so unique and authentic are these small local enterprises and responsible operators. For some of these experiences to go away is like taking a part of the Mekong Region away. The Experience Mekong Collection not only creates a strong community for these small businesses to get through this difficult time, but also provides a powerful platform to accelerate the recovery process”, said Ms. Duangmala Phommavong, Managing Director of Exo Travel Laos, and a member of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG).

By choosing one organization from each Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) country, the MTCO, along with the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) endorses and selects “best practice” tourism organizations specifically committed to sustainable and responsible practices. As previously structured, each showcase organization is thematically categorized by either ‘DO’, ‘SHOP’, ‘STAY’, ‘TASTE’, ‘TOUR’, and ‘CRUISE’.

This year for the second time, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is inviting the public to vote for their favorite Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) small businesses out of the 72 shortlisted members of the 350+ Experience Mekong Collection members to determine the 2021 Experience Mekong Showcases.  Public voting is open until March 31, 2021. The top 3 businesses with the most votes from each country will move into the final, when the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG), the GMS Tourism Working Group (TWG), and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) help in selecting the six 2021 Experience Mekong Showcases – one from each GMS member country.

“In recognizing the most innovative best practice businesses as the Experience Mekong Showcases, this sets several benchmarks to further improve travel experiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion. We hope this motivates other operators to become more involved and do their part for responsible tourism,” said HE Mr. Htay Aung, former Minister of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar, and a member of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG).

The 2018 Experience Mekong Collection Showcases included Phare Cambodian Circus (Cambodia), Longji Rice Terraces Guangxi (PR China), Ock Pop Tok (Lao PDR), Inle Heritage Place (Myanmar), Local Alike (Thailand), and Koto (Viet Nam). The 2019 Experience Mekong Collection included Soksabike (Cambodia), Linden Centre (PR China), Elephant Conservation Centre (Lao PDR), Hla Day (Myanmar), Sampran Riverside (Thailand), and Streets International (Viet Nam). The 2020 Experience Mekong Showcases included Elephant Valley Project (Cambodia), Yangshuo Mountain Retreat (PR China), Laos Buffalo Dairy (Lao PDR), Living Irrawaddy Dolphin Project (Myanmar), Family Tree (Thailand), La Hoa – Flowers Speak (Viet Nam).

All members of the Experience Mekong Collection get exposure via channels of Mekong Tourism, as well as the dedicated Experience Mekong Collection Facebook and Instagram accounts. Experience Mekong Collection members also have priority access to marketing campaigns and have their own dedicated online member-only community to connect with each other.  Via a partnership with Mahidol University in Thailand, we bring these innovative best practices into the classroom to educate future leaders about the importance of responsible tourism and create case studies of the Experience Mekong Showcases to inspire the industry and other businesses.

Shortlisted Experience Mekong Collection Members

CategoryBusiness NameCityCountryNotes
DoBambu StageSiem ReapCambodia
DoPhare Ponleu SelpakBattambangCambodia
ShopGenevieve’s Fair Trade VillageSiem ReapCambodia
ShopCoco KhmerPhnom PenhCambodia
StayFarmhouse Smiling GeckoKampong ChhnangCambodia
StayMulberry Boutique HotelSiem ReapCambodia
TasteSala BaïSiem ReapCambodia
TasteThe Lonely Tree CaféBattambangCambodia
Tour / CruiseWildlife Alliance Release StationKoh KongCambodia
Tour / CruiseArtisans AngkorSiem ReapCambodia
DoCambodia Living ArtsPhnom PenhCambodia2020 Finalist
Tour / CruiseAyana JourneysSiem ReapCambodia2020 Finalist
DoLanxu Eco-Culture Development CenterDali, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
DoYunnan Mountain Heritage FoundationShangri La, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
DoLeye-Fengshan GeoparkGuangxiChina2020 Shortlist
StayThe Wenhai EcolodgeDali, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
StayHorsepen 46Dali, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
StayVinetree Gaoligong Tented ResortGaoligong, YunnanChina
StayYangshuo Village InnYangshou, GuangxiChina
TastePear Blossom OrganicDali, YunnanChina
TasteNixi Black Pottery CoffeeShangri La, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
Tour / CruiseXintou EcotourismLijiang, YunnanChina2020 Shortlist
StayShaxi Old Theatre InnDali, YunnanChina2020 Finalist
StayThe BivouLijiang, YunnanChina2020 Finalist
DoTAECLuang PrabangLao PDR2020 Shortlist
DoNahm Dong ParkLuang PrabangLao PDR
DoHeuan Chan Heritage HouseLuang PrabangLao PDR
ShopPassa PaaLuang PrabangLao PDR
ShopSaoban CraftsVientianeLao PDR
StaySinouk Coffee ResortChampasakLao PDR
StayNamkhan EcolodgeLuang PrabangLao PDR
StayKingfisher EcolodgeChampasakLao PDR2020 Shortlist
TasteSaffron CoffeeLuang PrabangLao PDR
TasteTamarind CaféLuang PrabangLao PDR
Tour / CruiseThe Vat Phou Mekong CruisePakseLao PDR2020 Finalist
DoNam Et-Phou Louey National Park Wildlife ToursNam EtLao PDR2020 Finalist
DoThe Inle Horse ClubShan StateMyanmar2020 Shortlist
DoGreen Hill Valley Elephant CampShan StateMyanmar
ShopPlan BeePinyadaMyanmar
ShopAidii CollectionsChin StateMyanmar2020 Shortlist
StayArakan Nature LodgeRakhine StateMyanmar
StayLalay LodgeNgapali BeachMyanmar
TasteYuwaddy CenterYangonMyanmar
TasteVeranda Youth Community CafeHpa AnMyanmar
Tour / CruiseMyanmar Adventure OutfittersLashioMyanmar
Tour / CruiseUncharted HorizonsYangonMyanmar
TasteSanon RestaurantBaganMyanmar2020 Finalist
Tour / CruiseSampan TravelYangonMyanmar2020 Finalist
DoElephant Poopoopaper ParkChiang MaiThailand
ShopThai Tribal CraftChiang MaiThailand
StayPhu Chai Sai Mountain ResortChiang RaiThailand
StayThe Tongsai BayKoh SamuiThailand
TasteBetter Moon CaféBangkokThailand
TasteTheera Bake RoomBangkokThailand
TasteThe Passport RestaurantTakThailand
Tour / CruiseSiamRise TravelBangkokThailand
Tour / CruiseBangkok VanguardsBangkokThailand
DoAnurak LodgeSurat ThaniThailand2020 Finalist
DoAndaman DiscoveriesPang NgaThailand2020 Finalist
DoOmamori SpaHa NoiViet Nam
DoZó ProjectHa NoiViet Nam
ShopMekong QuiltsHo Chi Minh CityViet Nam
ShopCraft LinkHa NoiViet Nam
ShopIndigo CatSapaViet Nam
StayMekong RusticCan ThoViet Nam
StayNgoc Son Ngo Luong Nature ReserveHoa BinhViet Nam
StayPhong Nha FarmstayQuang BinhViet Nam
TasteOriberryHa NoiViet Nam
Tour / CruiseSapa Sisters TrekkingSapaViet Nam2020 Shortlist
ShopToheHa NoiViet Nam2020 Finalist
StayMr. Linh’s HomestayBac KanViet Nam2020 Finalist

About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office:

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), located in Bangkok, was set up with funding from the governments of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries – Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The MTCO, which operates on annual financial contributions from each GMS country, acts as the secretariat for the GMS Tourism Working Group, comprising of senior officials of the six GMS countries’ National Tourism Organizations, to coordinate and facilitate sustainable tourism development of the GMS, and promotion of the Mekong region as a single travel and tourism destination, in collaboration with the public and private sectors. The MTCO manages digital platform as a one-stop platform to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the region, as well as the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, whose hosting is rotated among GMS countries.

About Destination Mekong:
Destination Mekong was created in 2017 to promote the Mekong region, comprising of Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam as a single tourism destination to stimulate responsible and sustainable development and investment, and drive inclusive growth. Endorsed by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and aligned with the mandate of the regional collaborative tourism framework of the six-member governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Destination Mekong executes targeted projects and initiatives, including Mekong Moments, Mekong Mini Movie Festival, Mekong Innovations in Sustainable 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.