With the purpose of showcasing responsible and sustainable travel experiences in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), the “Experience Mekong Collection” was launched at the ITB Asia 2017 in Singapore. As the name suggests, it is a collection of inspirational, rewarding and authentic experiences that minimise negative impacts and generate greater benefits for the people of the GMS and enhance the well-being of host communities.
Commenting on the launch, Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office(MTCO) Executive Director Jens Thraenhart said: “The importance of responsible tourism cannot be underestimated, and the “Experience Mekong Collection” is a wonderful way of highlighting examples of good practice and at the same time providing benchmarks for further improving the experiences on offer in the GMS. We hope to motivate other operators to become involved and do their part for responsible tourism.”
As examples of the experiences on offer in the “Experience Mekong Collection”, Soksabike in Battambang, Cambodia runs bike tours that give an insight into the lives of local people in the Battambang countryside and sees visitors spend time in local homes; Myanmar Outfitters in Lashio, Myanmar offers mountain biking, hiking, overnight village stays and other activities which positively impact the local economy; White Elephant Adventures in Luang Prabang, Laos specialises in trekking, kayaking and mountain biking into the mountainous jungles to stay with Hmong, Khmu and Lao Loum hilltribe communities; while Lisu Lodge in Chiang Mai, Thailand is run by Lisu hilltribe villagers who take care of guests during their stay and on various activities in the surrounding countryside.
Then there’s Horsepen 46 in Yunnan, China which is a youth-hostel style guesthouse in the ancient town of Shaxi owned and operated by backpackers and designed for the young and adventurous; Pleasant View Resort in Ngapali Beach, Myanmar offering a splendid location nestled between the ‘Rakhine Yoma’ Hills and the Bay of Bengal; and Artisans Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a fascinating insight into the production of silk as it has been done for hundreds of years.
The “Experience Mekong Collection” is ever-growing and welcomes nominations from people of responsible travel experiences which they feel should be included in the collection. Nominations and applications, as well as listings, in the collection are free. MTCO expects to feature at least four experiences per country each year.
Endorsement of nominations is the role of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG), made up of tourism professionals who are active in responsible tourism in the GMS. All endorsed travel experiences are also eligible for the annual “Experience Mekong Showcase” that features innovative experiences throughout the region.