Sustainable tourism pioneer marks 25th anniversary

Khiri Travel founder and CEO Willem Niemeijer celebrates the milestone with a spirited bang of the drum

DMC Khiri Travel last Friday evening marked its silver anniversary with a cocktail party in Bangkok, with company employees, travel industry leaders and guests gathered at The Glass House, Nai Lert Heritage House to celebrate the positive impacts the Bangkok-based DMC has made in many aspects of its business and operations over the last 25 years.

The celebration featured traditional Thai puppetry by Joe Louis Theatre, a ‘memory lane’ display featuring photos and memorabilia that marked Khiri Travel’s transformation over time (including the original table when the company was still a one-room office), and staff dressed in traditional attire from its eight countries of operation.

A panel discussion entitled The Next 25 Years in Travel also saw industry veterans Mario Hardy, CEO of PATA; Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council; and David Keen, CEO of QUO; together with Willem Niemeijer, CEO of Khiri Travel, presenting different viewpoints about overtourism, authentic travel, elephant riding and plastic usage, among others.

Sustainability has been a key theme for Khiri Travel since it was founded by Niemeijer in Bangkok in 1993 to arrange travel to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia at a time when the Mekong region was opening to tourists.

A quarter century later, responsible travel remains at the core for Khiri Travel which has now grown in a DMC with 230 employees and 17 offices across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The sustainable tourism pioneer has a long history of giving back, with guests at the anniversary event encouraged to support the trio of projects initiated by its charity arm, Khiri Reach: help for the victims of the recent Lombok earthquakes, clean water wells in Myanmar, and a children’s foundation in Vietnam.

Integrity, inclusion and respect for local culture will continue to define Khiri’s commitment to responsible travel as the company expands further. “We’re always looking at sustainable long-term growth for Khiri,” said Niemeijer.

“Khiri Travel will continue to support the sustainable development of travel beyond Asia’s hubs,” he remarked. “As a CEO, the joy for me is when we work with local people at grass roots to help them realise their hopes for their families and communities. For me, this will not change in the next 25 years.”

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