GSTC2019: Program 2019-02-17T13:08:58+00:00

2019 GSTC Asia-Pacific Conference: Program


1. Smart Destination Management
Destination Managers are increasingly applying new technologies to assist them with many aspects of their complex jobs in managing tourism destinations. “Smart Destinations” refers to data-driven decision-making and management of destinations.

2. Quality Tourism: Delivering Sustainable Quality Experiences
This track of the conference program content considers both industry (businesses) offering more sustainable or responsible product as well as public sector destination managers doing the same.

3. Tourism Protecting Wildlife
The business of travel can either provide protection to wildlife by funding activities that create incentives for residents and governments to enforce protection laws and ethics, or it can cause much harm to wildlife. Awareness-raising is key, and this track will cover issues of importance to everyone involved in travel and tourism.

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Tuesday, February 26

Time Activity
9:00 – 17:30   GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training (Feb 26-27 (separate registration)

Wednesday, February 27

Time Activity
9:00 – 17:30   GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training (Feb 26-27 (separate registration)
18:00 Welcome Reception

Imperial Ballroom 2nd floor, Main building

Thursday, February 28

Times Activity
8:00 – 9:00 Registration
9:00 – 9:20           Opening Ceremony

  • Mr. Taweebhong Wichaidit, Director-General, DASTA
  • Mr. Luigi Cabrini, Chair, GSTC
9:20 – 10:00 Opening Speech

  • Hon. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports
10:00 – 10:30 GSTC’s Global Mission and Current Activities
Randy Durband, CEO, GSTC
10:30 – 10:45 GSTC in Asia-Pacific
Dr. Mihee Kang, GSTC Director Asia-Pacific
10:45– 11:15 Refreshment Break and Networking
(press conference)
11:15 – 11:45 Quality Tourism: Delivering Sustainable Quality Experiences
Dr. Chuwit Mitrchob, Deputy Director-General, DASTA
11:45– 12:30 Opening Panel: Introducing the conference themes

Moderator: Randy Durband, CEO, GSTC


  • Dr. Chuwit Mitrchob, Deputy Director-General, DASTA
  • Natalie Kidd, Managing Director, PEAK DMC
  • Lee Poston, Communications Director, WWF Greater Mekong
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch and Networking
14:00 – 15:15

Room 1

(1) Smart destinations practicing responsible tourism: monitoring and visitor behavior

This session will focus on the essential task of destination managers to better monitor and influence visitor behavior. Lack of management of visitor behavior can lead to damage of the sites visited, or diminish the quality of life of the residents, or negatively impact the quality of the visitor experience. But that management cannot be so intrusive that it brings about unintended negative consequences. It must be managed well, and part of that requires good monitoring of the policies that are put into practice.

Moderator: Dr. Panate Manomaivibool, Head of the Circular Economy for Waste-free Thailand (CEWT) Research Group, Mae Fah Luang University


  • Flt Lt Dr Atchariya Pangma, Secretary General, Thailand National Institute for Emergency Medicine (NIEM)
  • Gabriela Kühn, Head of Program – against Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism (SECTT), ECPAT International
14:00 – 15:15

Room 2

(2) Elephants in tourism

There has been much discussion in recent years about whether it is ethical for travelers to ride elephants. This is an important issue, but the much larger and more important discussion should be about the general care and welfare of elephants. To that point, GSTC has assembled a panel of experts on elephant welfare, led by the scientific research conducted by Chiang Mai University. Elephants cannot tell us what makes them happy or sad, free or not of pain, so we need good, solid scientific observation and research to understand best how to treat elephants in captivity. Southeast Asia has thousands of elephants alive today that were domesticated as hard-laborers for the timber industry, which has been banned, but the elephants cannot return to the wild due to new habits and due to the decreasing amount of habitat available for life in the wild. This is a complex subject that requires scientific analysis. Sellers of travel who wish to better understand the ethical choices of how to satisfy visitor interest in viewing and interacting elephants will surely gain new insights into this matter by attending this session.

Moderator: John Roberts, Director of Conservation, Minor Hotel Group


  • Dr. Pakkanut (Im) Bansiddhi, Center of Excellence in Elephant Research and Education, Chiang Mai University
  • Dr. Chatchote Thitaram, Director, Center of Excellence in Elephant Research and Education, Chiang Mai University
  • Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach, Global Wildlife and Veterinary Advisor, World Animal Protection
  • Nia Klatte, Sustainability Coordinator, Exo Travel
15:15 – 16:00 Refreshment Break and Networking
16:00 – 17:15

Room 1

(3) Tourism for All: Issues of Accessibility

Globally, it is estimated that there are over 1 billion persons with disabilities, as well as more than 2 billion people, such as spouses, children and caregivers of persons with disabilities, representing almost a third of the world’s population, are directly affected by disability. Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable development policy. It is both a human rights imperative, as well as an exceptional business opportunity. “Tourism for All” is also referred to in the GSTC Criteria (GSTC-I criterion A7.4; GSTC-D criterion A8). The impact of accessible tourism thus goes beyond the tourist beneficiaries to the wider society, ingraining accessibility into the social and economic values of society.

Moderator: Martin Heng, Accessible Travel Manager & Editorial Adviser, Lonely Planet


  • Hideto Kijima, President, Japan Accessible Tourism Center
  • Nithi (Nutty) Subhongsang, Co-founder, Nutty Adventures
  • Neha Arora, Founder, Planet Abled
14:00 – 15:15

Room 2

(4) Alternative and innovative accommodations

Sustainable accommodations must come in all forms, from mainstream to creative, innovative, and the unconventional. This session will present concepts and case studies of creative and innovative types of accommodations that can and do succeed in the marketplace, designed and operated sustainably of course.

Moderator: CB Ramkumar, Board Member & India Country Representative, GSTC; Founder, Green Dreams for the Planet & Our Native Village


  • Koko Tang, CEO, Yunnan Vinetree Tourism Development
  • John Roberts, Cardamom Tented Camp
  • Jose T Ramapuram, Executive Director, Evolve Back Resorts
  • Daniel Rye, Senior Manager – BD, Canopy Power
17:15 – 17:30 Closing remarks for the first day
17:30 At leisure (dinner not included)

Friday, March 1

Times Activity
8:00– 9:00 Registration
9:00– 10:45 Plenary Session: Developing Less-Known Destinations While Protecting Authenticity and “Sense of Place”

As tourism demand continues to grow, one important aspect of preventing “overtourism” at iconic locations while still benefiting economically from that strong demand is to disperse visitors to more secondary and tertiary destinations. But can an “emerging destination” benefit from that economic growth potential without damaging quality of life of the residents and the essence of their culture and self-identity? Yes it can! It is not easily done, but it can be done. The speakers forming this panel will look at these issues from two perspectives: first, how do we develop the right mix of products and services to attract the type of visitors who will most appreciate what we offer, and secondly, how do we manage our community and our businesses in ways that will protect our lifestyle and culture? All of this requires planning, and it requires collaboration between the public sector and local businesses. We will aim to offer practical suggestions for civic leaders and businesses.

Moderator: Randy Durband, CEO, GSTC


  • Willem Niemeijer, CEO, Yaana Ventures
  • Neeracha Wongmasa, TEATA President
  • Minako Okada, Researcher, Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) Foundation
  • Mike Stewart, General Manager Thailand, PEAK DMC
  • Jaturong Pokharatsiri, Professor of Architecture, Thammasat University, Thailand; Vice-President of ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee
10:45– 11:30 Refreshment Break and Networking
11:30– 12:45

Room 1

(5) Sustainable Hotels Trends

All forms of travel and tourism must become more sustainable. Most travel includes overnight stays, making the topic of sustainable hotels/accommodations essential and ongoing. In this session we will hear from people on the front lines of making mainstream hotels operate more sustainably, considering various elements of sustainable and responsible policy formulation within successful businesses and insights into how to put those policies into practice.

Moderator: Luigi Cabrini, Chair, GSTC


  • Janice Lao, Director – Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels
  • Hazel Xue Fang Quek, Senior Corporate Responsibility Executive, Hilton
  • Jeffery Smith, Vice President – Sustainability, Six Senses
  • Marisa Sukosol, Sukosol Hotels Thailand; Chair of Thailand Hotel Association Environment Committee
11:30– 12:45

Room 2

(6) Community Benefit Through Tourism

Much has been discussed in the past 20 years about CBT — “Community-Based Tourism”, which is often associated with village cooperatives as a development model. This session is about a much broader discussion than that. Benefits to the community are often limited relative to the potential, and sometimes there is social harm resulting from some aspects of tourism. This session will address ways to maximize the benefits of tourism to the communities in and near tourism destinations. DASTA, the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (a Thailand Public Authority), has developed the approach “Community Benefit Through Tourism”. We have assembled an expert panel to examine a number of the many aspects of how tourism can provide more benefits to the local communities that attract outside visitors.

Moderator: Cathy Germier-Hamel, Founder & CEO, Millenium Destinations


  • Jaranya Daengnoy, Director, Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I)
  • Tung (Panot) Pakongsup, Asia Field Manager, Planeterra Foundation (based in Chiang Mai)
  • Prof. Kumi Kato (Kumano Kodo, Japan)
11:30– 12:45

Room 3

(7) GSTC and Sustainable Tourism in China

In 2017, tourism contributed about 11% of China’s GDP, and contributed direct and indirect employment of up to 28 million people. Domestic travel is booming, and a big increase in foreign tourists is expected for the next decade. In such a context, sustainability practices in tourism are very important, and as such has much potential for a positive change and impactful leadership. In this session, we will learn from Chinese GSTC Members on their application and promotion of the GSTC framework within China.

Moderator: Dr. Lewis Cheung Ting On, Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, The Education University of Hong Kong


  • Wang Yong, Deputy Director of HSAC General Office, and Chief of Policy Research Center, Mt. Huangshan Scenic Area Administrative Committee (HSAC)
  • Koko Tang, CEO, Yunnan Vinetree Tourism Development
  • Han Bo, Chairman, China Adventure Association (CAA)
12:45 – 14:15 Lunch and Networking
14:15 – 15:30

Room 1

(8) The role of tourism in illegal wildlife trade and poaching

Travelers love to shop. For personal souvenirs, for gift-giving, to aid in post-trip story-telling, and for purchasing items that they cannot easily get at home. Unfortunately, sometimes they buy things they shouldn’t, and therefore markets are developed to supply that demand. Many travelers are either unaware or don’t care that some things should not be bought and sold or brought home. Tusks belong on elephants, and not sold in shops, for example. Demand for shark fin soup leads to fishing practices that seriously harm the ocean’s ecosystem. Demand for the scales and meat of pangolin are pushing that species to extinction. These are just three prominent examples of a very large problem. With a new ban on ivory sales in China, the pressure on neighbouring countries is increasing and tourist purchases in countries like Thailand are helping fuel a growing international trade. This session explores why and how tourism providers and governments must work harder to prevent illegal activities that harm or destroy wildlife.

Moderator: Lee Poston, Communications Director, WWF-Greater Mekong


  • tbd
14:15 – 15:30

Room 2

(9) Harmonization of Standards & Certifications in Asia

There are literally hundreds of sustainable travel and tourism standards in the worlds, perhaps around 300, and almost as many certification schemes applying those standards. This offers much choice but can also create confusion. The GSTC Criteria were created to set a global baseline set of standards and to harmonize the essence of them with other sets of standards in existence. In this session we will explore successful approaches to reducing that confusion to help business and destinations choose the approach best suited for their situation.

Moderator: Randy Durband, CEO, GSTC


  • Upali Rathnayake, Director General, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority
  • Martin Lee, Managing Director, Control Union Korea
  • Marvin Ng, GSTC Certification Manager, Bureau Veritas Certification Hong Kong
  • CB Ramkumar, Board Member & India Country Representative, GSTC
14:15 – 15:30

Room 3

(10) Smart destinations practicing responsible tourism: technology usage

Destination Managers are increasingly applying new technologies to assist them with many aspects of their complex jobs in managing tourism destinations. “Smart Destinations” refers to data-driven decision-making and management of destinations. With the rapid development of technology and the strong need to manage destinations well, GSTC Asia-Pacific Director Dr. Mihee Kang will moderate an expert panel providing insights into a number of key opportunities, using case studies and descriptions of new technologies.

Moderator: Dr. Mihee Kang, Director Asia-Pacific, GSTC


  • Dr. Seulki Lee, Dean, Department of Hotel and Tourism Management, Sejong University
  • Wang Yong, Deputy Director of HSAC General Office, and Chief of Policy Research Center, Mt. Huangshan Scenic Area Administrative Committee (HSAC)
  • Roi Ariel, General Manager, GSTC
15:30 – 16:00 Refreshment Break and Networking
16:00 – 17:15

Room 1

(11) Skills Development for Quality Tourism: Best Practices in Sustainable Tourism Training

The quality of the knowledge and skills of the tourism industry workforce is critical to supporting the sustainable growth of the industry, and to promote innovation. Focused on training and capacity building opportunities for tourism professionals, this session offers examples and lessons on how tourism organizations can effectively approach professional skills development to empower and engage employees, stakeholders and community members.

Moderator: Ayako Ezaki, Training Director, GSTC


  • Lewis Cheung Ting On, Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences, The Education University of Hong Kong
  • Mochamad Nalendra Pradono, MarkPlus Center for Hospitality and Tourism
  • ChoCho Mar, Head of Hospitality Training, Vocational Skills Development Program (VSDP), Swisscontact Myanmar
16:00 – 17:15

Room 2

(12) Protection of marine wildlife in tourism

Coral reefs are in peril, marine mammals and fish are in peril, the general health of the oceans is in peril, and tourism plays a part in all of it. Experts in these issues will share information on how tourism providers can provide satisfactory visitor experiences without damaging the marine wild and general environment.


  • AA Yaptinchay, Director, Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines
  • Rili Djohani, Executive Director, Coral Triangle
16:00 – 17:15

Room 3

(13) Working Session on GSTC Destination Criteria Revisions

The GSTC Destination Criteria that was released in 2013 is now under a  revision process. Conference participate are welcome to take part in the revision consultation and help shape the second version of the GSTC Destination Criteria.

Facilitator: Dr. Mihee Kang, Director Asia-Pacific, GSTC

18:00 – 18:30 Evening networking reception
18:30 Closing Ceremony

Saturday, March 2

Time Activity
7:00-18:00 Option 1: Nature and Villages Route: Hiking in Doi Inthanon

(register by February 17th, max of 50 participants)

8:00-17:30 Option 2: Elephant Route at Mae Rim

(register by February 17th, max of 50 participants)

Full days

Half days

Post-conference Paid Tours






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