One + June 2011 - (Page 28)

THE River Mason BY LARA DUNSTON Mason Florence’s goal is to put the Mekong region on the map. Motivating visitors to experience a multicountry trip when they visit Southeast Asia is also his goal. As executive director of Mekong Tourism, Florence is the world’s only tourism chief responsible for a single destination straddling six countries—Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. His mission is to develop and promote the attraction uniting these nations, the enigmatic Mekong River and the diverse lands that begin from its sandy riverbanks. In the role since 2009, Florence, a publisher and former journalist, photographer and tour guide who has lived in Asia for 20 years, was tasked with re-launching the annual Mekong Tourism Forum in 2010. Florence’s challenges are significant but they’re not what you might expect. Despite language and cultural differences, with his coordinating office’s efforts, the tourism bodies of the six different countries work well together, collaborating on an ongoing basis. “If it was up to them, we’d already have a single currency and one visa for all six countries,” Florence says. Rather, problems promoting the area lie with public perception regarding develop- TERENCE CARTER ment and accessibility, despite a wide variety of unique aquatic transportation—from converted rice barges to luxury steamers— and affordable regional airlines. Florence isn’t phased. “The Mekong is the ultimate destination for travellers who love nature, adventure, culture, food and people. There’s a shared history, customs and traditions, and when you understand this, you see it as one. The beauty of that perception is the mystique of the Mekong.” Scan this tag with your smartphone to hear Mason Florence discuss the Mekong Tourism Forum 2011 and the myriad travel options in the region. 28 one+ 06.11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of One + June 2011

One + June 2011
Energy of Many
Paradigm Shifts, Part I
Ask the Experts
Web Watch
Recognizing Individual Excellence
Sound Off
Art of Travel
River Mason
Top Spots
Plan It Forward
Great Thanking
Running on Defaults
The New Mobile Workforce
World Wide Open
Higher Education
Progress Through Technology
Step by Strategic Step
Meeting Rxcitement
Tame Social Media Chaos
Meeting Against Meat
Re-Designed for the New Rules of Engagement
Industry Insights
Your Community
Making a Difference
Until We Meet Again

One + June 2011