Pandemic accelerates Mekong’s sustainable tourism development

The Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG), which was established three years ago by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) to connect public and private sectors across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) to drive sustainable and responsible travel, is seeing its work accelerated by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Jens Thraenhart, MTCO executive director, told TTG Asia: “MeTAG wasn’t designed with Covid-19 in mind but has become more relevant than ever now.”

Industry stakeholders and governments are more aware of the need for responsible tourism developments

Since the outbreak, the group has provided a vital platform for key industry stakeholders and governments across the GMS to discuss recovery plans, exchange success stories, collaborate and provide support.

In August, MTCO conducted its first Virtual Destination Mekong Summit, a free-to-attend series of talks on how destinations will survive these challenging times and prepare for an accelerated recovery.

Thraenhart added that much of the group’s work to celebrate and promote leading responsible tourism initiatives through its various programmes has become more important.

These include Experience Mekong Collection, Experience Mekong Showcases and Mekong Heroes, which throw the spotlight on innovative sustainable programmes and trailblazers within the industry – all marketing tools being used to entice travellers once borders open.

Said Thraenhart: “We have been creating these programmes to build resilience in the case of a crisis for the last few years. We now have Covid-19 and a strong strategy for sustainable tourism that is globally unique.”

He added that group members will continue to work together to use this time to build further infrastructures, programmes and strategies for resilience across the GMS to be stronger in the future.

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