Destination Mekong Summit Promotes Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism Recovery
As part of its action plan to boost tourism recovery in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), Destination Mekong, the private regional tourism board of the GMS, based in Cambodia and Singapore, will have the third edition of its Destination Mekong Summit on 14-15 December 2022.
As international travel has resumed in the GMS and globally, the 2022 Destination Mekong Summit will take place in Trellion and Aquation Parks on Koh Pich in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and online, under the theme ‘Together – Smarter – Stronger’.
Designed as a two-day journey celebrating creativity, diversity and inclusivity, the 2022 DMS will gather 40 speakers, and prominent representatives of the public and private sectors involved in the travel, tourism and hospitality in the Mekong region: operators and owners of tourism SMEs, social entrepreneurs, policy-makers, practitioners, influencers, change-makers, educators and learners, high-level officials, etc.
The program of the Summit features eight thematic panel sessions, three of them being led by supporting partners including:
· World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) session on ‘Championing the GMS as a sustainable tourism destination’, a key partner of the 2022 DMS;
· Child Protection in Travel and Tourism (ECPAT) International: session on ‘Practicing social responsibility and inclusiveness in tourism’;
· Beyond Retail Business (BRB) session on ‘Catching the value of local culture, know-how and creativity’.
Other panel sessions will address a variety of subjects such as innovative capacity-building, sustainable food and beverage businesses and experiences, marketing and branding for SMEs, social enterprises and start-ups in tourism, and opportunities and threats for tourism recovery in the GMS.
On the morning of the second day, 15 December, the Destination Mekong Summit will offer its participants the opportunity to attend the following training sessions and workshops:
– Training of Tour Guides as Wildlife Champions and Agents for Positive Changes by WWF,
– Sustainable tourism recovery with child protection in focus by ECPAT International,
– Storytelling techniques by the Centre for Communication and Information Literacy,
– Developing a Tourism & Travel Brand in 2023 by Trove Tourism Development Advisors, and
– Digital Marketing for Tourism Businesses by Destination Mekong
– Presentation of the report on ‘Innovate to Compete – Cambodia’s Tourism Insights 2022’ by GIZ.
Three major networking events, including a cocktail reception on the first day and a business matchmaking breakfast and a garden party on the second day, will offer the audience another occasion to enjoy the ‘power of together’ while building promising bridges and exciting connections. The latest line-up of speakers and programs can be found here.
Hosted for the first time in a hybrid format, the Destination Mekong Summit intends to:
· build a smart platform and network to stimulate sustainable tourism recovery across GMS;
· foster synergies and partnerships to position and market the GMS as an attractive, sustainable and inclusive tourism destination;
· To facilitate an innovative framework to share experiences, grassroots solutions, and inspiring stories to help the recovery and resilience of tourism recovery in the GMS;
· To showcase value-added, revenue-generating solutions, projects and programs designed by Destination Mekong and its members and partners.
Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong, highlighted that ‘This 2022 DMS comes at a perfect time when we still have the chance to take stock of the lessons learnt in the past few years, and restart, rethink, and rebalance tourism so that it can truly contribute to inclusive local development and empowerment in the region’.
‘The travel and tourism industry has come in for much criticism in recent years, particularly in terms of its environmental impact, this summit allows us to convey the positive role the industry can play as well as the necessity to promote social and economic sustainability if we are to achieve our environmental sustainability goals’ stressed Mark Jackson, Chair of the Executive Board of Destination Mekong.
‘Responsible tourists are a key player in wildlife conservation and sustainable local livelihood development. Wildlife and local cultures are priceless assets for tourism activities which need to be protected and restored’ said Teak Seng, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia. ‘Cambodia is blessed with rich biodiversity on earth but the nature-based tourism in Cambodia hasn’t reached its full potential at this point due to the limited infrastructure, quality products and services,’ Mr Seng added.
‘Global travel and tourism are making a comeback, but it is important that we don’t revert to old behaviours,” said Jedsada Taweekan, head of WWF-Greater Mekong’s Illegal Wildlife Trade program. ‘The way forward must be green and sustainable, and consider the needs of wildlife and the environment in addition to the needs of travellers. Therefore, working with the travel and tourism sector to encourage tourists to have responsible tourism experiences – at the minimum by refraining from consuming wild animal meat or buying wildlife products as souvenirs – is a small but effective way to promote positive change in tourist behaviour.’
For Gabriela Kühn, Head of the Programme of Child Protection in Travel and Tourism – ECPAT International, ‘Practicing social responsibility and inclusiveness for tourism development can only happen through human rights approach. Actions to address adverse impacts on children’s rights need to be scaled up by governments and companies in cooperation with civil society organizations. The Destination Mekong Summit allows stimulating action of building together sustainable tourism destinations that protect children.’