Bangkok, Thailand, February 1, 2024 / TRAVELINDEX / A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Bangkok, establishing a strategic partnership between the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA), the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), Green Destinations (GD), and the Trade Association of Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN). This collaboration marks a significant step towards promoting sustainable tourism certification for destinations in Asia with a focus on the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).
“As we embark on this transformative mission, we are committed to elevating tourism destination standards for sustainability, fostering economic stability, and preserving our rich cultural heritage in the subregion. This initiative equips DMOs with the tools to collaborate effectively with all stakeholders in tourism development.”, said Gp. Capt. Athikun Kongmee, Director-General of DASTA.
Ms. Suvimol Thanasarakij, Executive Director of MTCO, shared her perspective on this new partnership: “The signing of this MOU is a testament to our shared commitment to sustainable tourism in the GMS. By uniting our efforts, we aim to develop tourism destinations that are not only economically viable but also environmentally and culturally sustainable.”
“Government leaders have a responsibility to future-proof their destinations for sustainability to protect the environment, stimulate economic growth, and provide international leadership in addressing global challenges. It’s their legacy to their constituents and the future generations to ensure good governance for the people, planet and prosperity,” said Ms. Susan Santos de Cardenas, Southeast Asia Partner and Representative of Green Destinations.
Mr. Masaru Takayama, President of the Trade Association of Asia Ecotourism Network (AEN) commented, “AEN aims high to help introduce sustainable tourism to the GMS countries and grow it together with our partners to make ripple effects to ensure a bright future for the communities and our children for the generations to come while ensuring environmental conservation, cultural preservation, and priority to local employment and economy. The certification scheme should focus on the objectives, progress, and mission-driven actions not just on the scheme itself.”
Spearheaded by DASTA, the MOU outlines a collaborative framework focused on enhancing sustainable tourism practices, particularly in destination management and certification. This initiative encompasses sharing knowledge and resources, supporting the development and testing of sustainable tourism initiatives, and engaging in the exchange of ideas to formulate operational guidelines. These efforts aim to ensure that tourism development in the GMS is conducted responsibly, balancing socio-economic growth with the preservation of the region’s unique environmental and cultural heritage.
About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)
The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) was established in 2006 by the governments of Cambodia, Yunnan Province, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China (PRC), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. MTCO serves as a collaborative framework dedicated to advancing tourism’s role in fostering inclusive economic growth and environmental sustainability in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Guided by the GMS Tourism Working Group (TWG), comprising senior representatives from the National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) of the six member countries, MTCO plays a pivotal role in promoting sustainable tourism development in the region.