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Dear Mekong Tourism stakeholder,

Welcome to 2017, the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

What does that really mean?

According to the UNWTO, the year "aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute effectively to the SDGs" (sustainable development goals).

If you received and opened our New Year e-card last week you will recognise the dolphin that is also pictured at the top of this week's e-news. We chose the image of the Mekong River (or Irrawaddy) dolphin to remind us that -- while it is nice for the industry to pronounce and support grand themes -- there are cultures, communities, habitats, and species on the brink of extinction along the very river that gives our region its name.

The tourism industry is not threatening the Mekong River dolphin. As an industry we need not feel any guilt about that. However, we should feel a keen sense of responsibility for the mammal. Our industry has the potential to give the dolphin an economic raison d'être in this economically "rational" world. Indeed dolphins could be a star attraction of any number of community-based tourism projects up and down our precious waterway, not to mention the cruises that ply it. As the "economic value" of the dolphin rises to compete with that of the activities and projects that threaten the dolphin's existence -- and as the numbers of tourism-related jobs and livelihoods tied to the dolphin's viability multiply -- economic rationalist policymakers just might give pause for thought.

Enjoy this, our first e-newsletter for 2017. If you find it interesting and useful, please share it among your colleagues and associates and invite them to subscribe.

Jens Thraenhart
Executive Director, MTCO

News & Articles of the Week

News & articles that caught our attention since the last e-newsletter:

Mekong River Initiative to Highlight Biodiversity, Ecosystems
To conserve the Mekong River and help support the communities who live beside it, USAID is funding a five-year project by the University of Nevada ... Read more about it.

Infrastructure an ASEAN Tourism Priority: WTTC
WTTC has urged ASEAN governments to ensure they have the infrastructure in place to cater to future demand from the region and China ... Read more about it.

Thailand-China High-Speed Rail to Benefit Thais
The high-speed railway linking the Thai-Lao border with Bangkok will benefit Thailand by improving lifestyles and livelihoods, the Thai transport minister said ... Read more about it.

China-Laos Railway Construction Commences
The China-Laos train will travel 160kph along a line that will be 60% bridges and tunnels. Construction of the US$6 billion track has started in Luang Prabang ... Read more about it.

Cambodia’s Community-Based Tourism Experiment
Up to 20% of visitors to Cambodia visit community-based tourism and ecotourism sites as Cambodians increasingly open their homes to travellers ... Read more about it.

Thailand to Target Ultra High Net Worth Market in 2017?
In Thailand pure visitor numbers are no longer seen as good enough. While the Kingdom still offers amazing value, it has become a hotspot for luxury tourism ... Read more about it.

Myanmar’s Kayah State Faces Tourism Boom, Challenges
After a long ban on tourists, Kayah State in eastern Myanmar has opened up. But there are fears its charm could be lost as locals chase the tourism dollar. ... Read more about it.

Angkor Tickets Earn US$62m in 2016; Prices to Rise
Angkor Wat ticket sales generated $62.5 million in 2016, a 4.21% increase on a year earlier; ticket prices will rise in February 2017 ... Read more about it.

Floating through the Tu Lan Caves of Vietnam
In Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park; travel light, avoid the crowds; tours operated by locals offer the best spelunking experience Paul Eshoo's ever had ... Read more about it.

Recent Additions to the Mekong Tourism e-Library

Mekong Tourism Forum 2016 Report
The official summary report of the proceedings of Mekong Tourism Forum 2016, Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Cambodia proudly presented the report to the 38th Meeting of the GMS Tourism Working Group in Kunming, Yunnan ... Download for free.

Mekong Tourism Forum 2016 featured intensive sessions on digital marketing, authenticity, cruises, food tourism, responsible tourism, investment, and much more.

Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST)

MIST aims to support innovative new travel & tourism-related ventures in the developing destinations and source markets of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. MIST will mentor new ventures, provide support and guidance, and match them with suitable investors. For more information and a form to register startups please visit Also join MIST's Facebook discussion group.

MTCO Seeks e-Library Contributions

In addition to economic reports, statistical analyses, industry studies, and much more, the Mekong Tourism e-Library hosts contributions in the following new categories:

Multi-Country Journeys & Mekong River Cruises
Tour and cruise operators offering multi-destination tours and cruises (defined as tours or cruises that visit more than one Mekong-region country) are welcome to send their eligible itineraries in PDF format. The objective is to develop a resource for those seeking Mekong experiences for their customers (or themselves).

Tourism Development Projects
Economic development agencies (bilateral or multilateral) and non-government organisations (NGOs) are encouraged to send, in PDF format, scopes of work, terms of reference, reports, and case studies pertaining to tourism-related projects in the Mekong region. The objective is to develop a resource for all Mekong tourism stakeholders.

MTCO Seeks Tourism Experts

Subject matter experts, such as consultants, executives, and industry journalists, who are active in GMS travel & tourism, are eligible to become “Official Mekong Tourism Experts“. In return for regular (non-exclusive) business-, trade- or policy-related content, Experts will receive a range of profile-enhancing benefits ... Read more about it.

MTCO Seeks Travel Storytellers

MTCO welcomes anyone with a passion for storytelling who wishes to share their unique and unusual travel experiences: multi-destination Mekong journeys and experiences linked to social, cultural, or environmental causes. In return for regular content, Storytellers will receive a range of profile-enhancing benefits ... Read more about it.


MTCO is active on various social media platforms under the universal handle @TourismMekong. Please follow and engage with us by clicking on the links below:

LinkedIn: Mekong Tourism discussion group
Mekong Tourism is a collaborative effort between Cambodia, China, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand,
and Vietnam to promote the Greater Mekong Subregion as a single tourism destination.
Tag with #TourismMekong - Follow us @TourismMekong
Copyright © 2017 Mekong Tourism, All rights reserved.

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