Destination Mekong CEO Catherine Germier-Hamel says that increased levels of tourism recovery demand for the Mekong region are likely to cause operational in-bound challenges this summer – particularly with traditional markets such as China.
Speaking ahead of her speech at the upcoming Arival Activate event in Bangkok from 12-14 June, the CEO of Destination Mekong has said that the Mekong region is quite probably not yet fully equipped to cope with surging inbound tourism demand likely to happen for the foreseeable future.
In her opinion the Mekong region faces four particular challenges:
- The industry has not yet recovered from job losses and the collapse of businesses due to COVID.
- This is followed by the difficulty tourism companies face in attracting and retaining skilled workers.
- Additionally tourism businesses are not yet fully ready to deal with Chinese visitors, with many of the local Chinese speakers now having non-tourism, and often better paying, jobs.
- The fourth and final challenge is that many of the inbound visitors, be they Chinese or from any other region, are likely to have higher than ever expectations for their holidays due to having waited so long for them.
Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong, the DMO set up to promote innovative and inclusive public-private tourism collaborations in the Mekong region, comments: “Whilst the tourism industry has dreamed of seeing visitor numbers returning to 2019 levels, we are now nonetheless faced with the reality of welcoming all these visitors without the 2019 levels of infrastructure or staff in place. Visitor expectations are higher than ever, they’ve been waiting for years for these trips, but we think that the Mekong region is going to be in the ‘high-class problem’ situation of not being able to cope properly with such demand for the foreseeable future. How will visitors react to that? Could what they say to friends and on social media damage our reputation? If we don’t act now we risk pushing travellers towards other destinations.”
Attendees at the Arival event in Bangkok will be able to hear Catherine elaborate on the causes of these challenges along with her advice on how to overcome them, be they public or private, by implementing policies and strategies such as:
- Drawing upon local resources and local models – and not being dependent upon international models that don’t work locally.
- Escaping from an over-reliance on traditional segments and instead specializing.
- Building innovative experiences that add real value.
- Creating a brand that draws upon demand from travellers for sustainability and authenticity focused experiences.
- Finding ways to engage more with travellers who really care about the experience they´ll have.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.