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30 September 2021
2021 Finalists Announced for Mekong Innovations in sustainable Tourism (MIST) & Experience Mekong Showcases (EMS) to pitch at virtual Forum
Mekong travel and tourism innovators will take virtual centerstage on 6-7 October to showcase sustainable tourism initiatives and social enterprises. Register for free at https://www.destinationmekong.com/world-tourism-day-21/
BANGKOK, 30 September 2021 – The Mekong World Tourism Forum, part of the two-event series of the Destination Mekong Summit, held virtually on October 21-22, will feature inspiring keynote speakers, Bangkok-based award-winning hotel designer Mr. Bill Bensley in conversation with outgoing Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, Mr Jens Thraenhart, and social impact innovator Mr. Jimmy Pham, founder of Hanoi based social enterprise and Experience Mekong Showcase recipient, KOTO (Know One – Teach One).
Other featured speakers include the winner of MIST 2018, Ms Aroun Khoungkhakoune of Bamboo Lao, and MIST 2019 Finalist, Ms Ros Rotanak of Cambodia-based Chef Nak. Welcome remarks will be given by Ms. Natalia Bayona, Director of Innovation, Investment, and Education of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and Mr. Steven Schipani, Principal Tourism Industry Specialist of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The forum will be moderated live from the Innovation Lab at Sasin Business School at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University by Ms. Wimintra Raj, founder of HotelIntel.co, and Mr. Jens Thraenhart.
The highlight, between the keynotes and the pitches of the finalists of the Mekong Innovations in Tourism program (MIST) and the Experience Mekong Showcases, is the announcement of the 2021 Mekong Hero, by the chair of the Mekong Heroes selection committee for this year, HE Ms KobkarnWattanavrangkul, former Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Kingdom of Thailand. “The concept of this year’s Destination Mekong Summit and Mekong World Tourism Day Forum event series is unique and it was to showcase local experiences and people, and will be highly inspiring and not to be missed, bringing together the passion of the people and entrepreneurs that keep the heart beating in the Mekong Region”, says Jens Thraenhart, Founder of Destination Mekong, the organizer and chair of the events, whose tenure as Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office will end after the Destination Mekong Summit.
Destination Mekong, the organizer of the MIST and Experience Mekong Collection Showcases programs today announced that 9 finalists in the three tracks (Launch, Growth, and Projects) of the Mekong Innovations in Sustainable Tourism (MIST) program and 15 finalists in the Experience Mekong Showcase program from across the Mekong Region will virtually pitch at the 2021 Mekong World Tourism Day Forum in two half–day afternoons (Indo-China Time) on October 6-7. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum will be held virtually.
The 9 finalists in the MIST program include:
Virelic Travel Guide
Discover Laos Today
Share the Wonder
Now in its fourth year, after pausing the program in 2020, with hundreds of alumni, MIST (www.mist.asia) is managed by the private sector–led regional tourism board Destination Mekong, in collaboration with the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
MIST was initially set up to help integrate Greater Mekong Subregion travel startups into the global travel and tourism ecosystem, promote innovation, and help local firms thrive in the globally competitive tourism industry. This year, MIST has evolved into a pioneering tourism innovations program, focusing on sustainability and resilience, with three tracks: Growth (registered enterprises), Launch (startups and new ventures), and Projects (innovative initiatives). MIST has attracted over 500 applications and generated millions of social shares in the first three years.
Jens Thraenhart, founder of Destination Mekong and outgoing Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office added: “Elevating the status and prestige of tourism entrepreneurship across the region, MIST is well-positioned to contribute to the rebuilding of travel and tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion by encouraging inclusive growth and responsible tourism development, via innovation and smart tourism.”
The 15 Finalists of the Experience Mekong Showcases 2021 from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand Viet Nam, as well as Guangxi and Yunnan in PR China are shown below. Due to the current situation in Myanmar, the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group board decided to recognize all shortlisted businesses from Myanmar as Experience Mekong Showcases.
The 15 finalists – 3 from each of 5 member countries of the Mekong Region are: