The recent surge in visitor numbers to the Mekong countries is likely
to create a "high-class problem" for the region in the near future,
according to Catherine Germier-Hamel, CEO of Destination Mekong.
Speaking ahead of her speech at the Arival Activate event in Bangkok,
Germier-Hamel outlined the challenges that the region is likely to face
and provided some advice on how to overcome them.
One of the major challenges facing the Mekong region is that the
industry has not yet fully recovered from the job losses and business
collapse caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This has led to difficulties
in attracting and retaining skilled workers.
In addition, many tourism businesses are not yet fully prepared to
deal with the influx of Chinese visitors, as many local Chinese speakers
have now taken on non-tourism jobs, which often pay better.
Another obstacle the region faces is that many of the inbound
visitors, whether from China or other regions, are likely to have higher
expectations for their holidays due to having waited so long for them.
The final challenge is the lack of infrastructure or staff in place to cope with the surge in visitor numbers.
Germier-Hamel's advice for addressing these challenges includes
drawing upon local resources and models rather than relying on
international models that may not work locally.
She also suggests that the region should focus on creating innovative
experiences that add real value, rather than relying on traditional
Building a brand that draws on demand for sustainability and
authenticity-focused experiences is another key strategy, as is finding
ways to engage with travellers who care about the experience they will
Germier-Hamel warns that failure to address these challenges could
result in travellers choosing other destinations, which could damage the
reputation of the Mekong region as a tourism destination.
However, with the right policies and strategies in place, she is
confident that the region can rise to the challenge and continue to
attract tourists from around the world.