Destination Mekong (DM), a membership-based destination management and marketing organisation championing the Mekong region, had its second Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 4 July 2023. The AGM took place virtually, with full and affiliate DM members in attendance worldwide. The meeting started with remarks by Mark Bibby Jackson, Chair of Destination Mekong’s Executive Board of Directors, Melita Koulmandas, Vice-Chair of the Board, and Gerrit Kruger, Chief Marketing Officer of Destination Mekong. It continued with a presentation by Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO, on the current status of the organisation, its strategies and action plan to engage and serve its community of members and partners.
The Chair of the Board thanked the executive team for all their work this past year. “We are seeing that Destination Mekong is well positioned to play its role as a supporter of the small players in the region. Micro and small tourism businesses make up most jobs in the region and greatly impact their communities and the environment. Our goal of promoting sustainable and inclusive tourism ecosystems in the Mekong region, creating value together with our members and partners is now more relevant than before”.
Together | Stronger | Smarter
The CEO of Destination Mekong introduced the creative partnerships and collaborations developed over the past year, materialised by a series of multi-stakeholder events such as the Destination Mekong Summit in December 2022, Destination Siem Reap, a program of webinars and workshops organised for members. “Our focus is to increase the value and benefits we offer to our members through building their capacity and providing them with better access to markets, networks, tools, technologies, funding, and business opportunities, together with our partners. We are willing to facilitate an innovative platform to promote sustainable and inclusive tourism ecosystems creating value for all involved players in the Mekong region. We will also create local chapters to engage with professionals and businesses at a grassroots level.”
Members are invited to join three new working groups: Cruise & River-based tourism, in collaboration with FrauBlau by tmf dialogue marketing in Germany; ecotourism & community-based tourism; and tourism & hospitality certifications.
Moreover, Destination Mekong will focus on already launched initiatives and solutions, such as its Experience Mekong Collection (EMC), featuring eco-friendly tourism experiences offered by small businesses in the region in the categories STAY, DO, TASTE, TOUR, SHOP, and CRUISE. Catherine Germier-Hamel commented, “Unfortunately, several EMC members had to close during the Covid-pandemic, and many are still struggling after these difficult years. We invite all of them to join us to jointly rebuild a strong committed network and strengthen the Mekong region’s tourism industry.”
Mekong in Motion | Mekong Emotion(s)
Gerrit Kruger presented last year’s Mekong Stories book and website with Mark Bibby Jackson, also the Editor in Chief of the publication. “It is important that we tell the stories of individuals and the impact they make on the industry,” said Gerrit Kruger. “It is amazing to see the inspiration others find when listening to those voices, which are normally not heard. Even though many small business owners in the hospitality and tourism sector face challenges, they become stronger when working with others. We invite everyone to send us stories for the next issue of the Mekong Stories book to show that tourism is a force for good.”
Then, Full members elected four new board members, corresponding to half of the board members to be elected or re-elected every year for a two-year term, according to the DM Charter. The other executive board seats are given to supporting organisations, and ex officio seats are for the CEO and the founder, Dr Jens Thraenhart.
The eight candidates for the four seats open to elections introduced themselves before the vote through an online system. By the Charter, full members were invited to rank the candidates by order of preference.
As a result, three people are now officially joining the Executive Board:
- Nikolas Hatz, Managing Director | HatzConsult and Lead Consultant & Tourism Development Export | Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
- Hannah Pearson, Founder | Pear Anderson and Regional Director Asia | Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA)
- Phan Thanh Ha, Partnership Officer | ASSET – H&C network
One board member was confirmed in his position:
- Guido Neil, Director Special Operations | 12Go
Additionally, new Board Members representing the most significant financial contributors to Destination Mekong are:
- For the Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC): Thierry Tea, Vice President
- For the World Wildlife Fund (WWF): Jedsada Taweekan, Regional Illegal Wildlife Trade Program Manager for WWF-Greater Mekong
- For Confluences: Dara N. Van, Business Development & MarCom Manager
- For Control Union: Dilum Wijenayaka, General Manager, Control Union Cambodia
- For the AZ Group: Lim Bunsour, Chairman
“We are happy about having a very experienced executive board and thank all outgoing members for their commitment, ” said Mark Bibby Jackson, adding that “all small- and medium-sized businesses and the many individuals working in tourism are making a large positive impact in the region, and we have to work together to overcome our challenges. That’s why Destination Mekong is championing the private sector and driving change for the better.”
To be part of our engaged tourism community and enjoy the benefits and opportunities offered by DM, go to https://www.destinationmekong.