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Mekong Tourism partnership to promote social enterprises

Mekong Tourism partnership to promote social enterprises

Thousands of dollars’ worth of travel prizes will be given away to travellers by sponsors of the Explore Mekong Giveaway and the programme will also give away tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of sponsorship opportunities to social enterprises across the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

The Explore Mekong Giveaway is a public-private partnership between the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) and A memorandum of understanding was signed today.

MTCO Executive Director Mason Florence said: “We are very excited by the potential of this project. It ticks all the right boxes: it’s in the spirit of public-private partnership and in line with the MTCO’s objectives to promote the Mekong region’s vast array of responsible, sustainable, and community-based tourism credentials, and in turn to help spread the benefits of tourism more widely.”

Targeting travellers, the Giveaway project will be focused on an open and interactive online loyalty programme dedicated to responsible, sustainable and community-based tourism in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The website will offer simple interactive games based on sponsors’ content. It will be free for people to register as members; only a first name and a valid email address are required. As they return to accumulate the points needed to claim travel prizes, members will become intimately familiar with sponsors’ brands, promotions and products. Many will become loyal advocates of responsible tourism and Giveaway sponsors.

The Explore Mekong Giveaway will donate two thirds of its sponsorship opportunities to eligible social enterprises identified by the MTCO. Initially four tourism SMEs from each Mekong-region country (24 in total) will enjoy the benefits of sponsorship for free. Larger travel and tourism organisations, such as airlines, hotel chains and multi-destination tour operators, will be offered the unique opportunity to participate as one of only 12 Premium Sponsors.


All sponsors of the project will enjoy prominent and interactive branding, promotions scheduling, product showcases (via Rewards), a dedicated sponsor profile page and value-added social media advocacy. Sponsors will benefit from the familiarity created by repeat exposure of their brands, promotions, and products as members return to the site to accumulate points needed to claim Rewards.

To support the overheads of the Giveaway, the MTCO and FreePlayo will seek funding from donor agencies that support responsible, sustainable and community-based tourism.

MTCO’s private-sector partner is investing in the project’s development as well as waiving FreePlayo customisation and licence fees. When the project is launched, sponsorship revenue exceeding operational costs will be divided equally between MTCO and FreePlayo.

FreePlayo co-founder and Managing Director David Gillbanks said: “I’m thrilled! We’re very proud to be involved in this project. All stakeholders will benefit from the Explore Mekong Giveaway: lucky travelers, responsible tourism suppliers, premium sponsors, donor agencies, destinations and communities, the MTCO and FreePlayo. This is very much in line with FreePlayo’s mission statement, which is to ensure ‘everyone’s a winner’!”