41st Meeting of the GMS Tourism Working Group (TWG-41)

The Forty-First Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion Tourism (GMS) Working Group (TWG-41) was held on 25 June 2018 in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand back-to-back with the Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) 2018 on 26–29 June.

TWG-41 reviewed the overall achievements of the working group over the last 4 years, corresponding with the first two 2-year tenure of the executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), whose contract has recently been extended for another 2 years beyond June 2018. These achievements included

  • the adoption of the GMS Tourism Marketing Strategy and Action Plan 2015–2020 and the new GMS Tourism Sector Strategy 2016–2025;
  • the various programs and initiatives of the strengthened MTCO with technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support the TWG work plan, including the improved and expanded digital platform which has received several international awards;
  • improved website with key features, regular e-newsletter, and e-library;
  • the successful annual MTF, featuring tourism industry experts;
  • partnerships with various tourism organizations and private entities; and
  • other initiatives such as the Mekong Trends, Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism, Mekong Moments, Mekong Stories, Mekong Minis, Experience Mekong Collection, and promotion of food tourism and organic tourism.

The meeting also reviewed the progress of implementing the ADB-financed GMS Tourism Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Viet Nam.

A closed meeting of the MTCO Board was held following TWG–41 to discuss pending issues regarding the draft agreement to establish the MTCO as an inter-governmental organization.

Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) 2018

An estimated 400 delegates attended MTF 2018 held on 26-29 June 2018 under the theme “Transforming Travel – Transforming Lives.” The event brought together a mix of tourism executives and operators from the public and private sectors, start-up entrepreneurs, and filmmakers for eight thematic strategy workshops on such topics as food tourism, adventure tourism, wellness tourism, religious tourism, festival tourism, ecotourism, heritage tourism, and organic tourism. The workshops were conducted in eight ethnic community villages around Nakhon Phanom.

Other side events included the inaugural Mekong Mini Movie Festival, the 1st Asia Film and Destination Marketing Conference, the Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism, and a special session to address the issue of plastic pollution and to launch the Plastic Free Pledge social media campaign.