THE AEN INTERNATIONAL
The AEN 2023 International Board Line-up.
The AEN board comprises 23 members from 16 countries and a province.
Masaru Takayama is a community-based ecotourism and sustainable tourism activist with expertise in energy conservation, green building, natural sciences, and experience in the outdoors activities especially with marine environment. He founded the world’s first ecolodge association, Japan Ecolodge Association (ECOLA) which later grew into the Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN), the authority in promoting authentic ecotourism in the region. Masaru serves a number of key positions in organizations both home and abroad pertinent to ecotourism and sustainable tourism. He is the founding chair of AEN and the Japan Alliance of Responsible Travel Agencies (JARTA). He also serves as the ecolodge advisor to Asia Pacific Tourism Exchange Center; auditor and advisor to the Green Destinations standards, Travelife, and Green Key; trainer at the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC); visiting researcher at the Taisho University. Masaru also served as an evaluator/judge of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, the World Legacy Awards, National Geographic, Wild Asia’s Responsible Travel Award. At home, he is the founder and owner of ‘Spirit of Japan Travel’, a responsible travel and tour company and a pioneer in converting the legendary over 80-year-old Shunyoso, a Japanese national cultural property into a community-based tourism facility incorporating sustainability.
The biggest reason why I have come to found AEN with my colleagues is to first, identify the existing ecotourism projects and organizations throughout Asia and second, promote them to the rest of the world with an external audit/benchmarking structure that works in Asia through one window, AEN. The information we receive and share should not be limited in English and other main languages, but also should be made available in Asian local languages. I will exert my utmost effort writing a new chapter in sustainable Asia with AEN.
Supi is a charter member and secretary to the Asian Ecotourism Network. She is also the Vice President of the Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA). She has actively engaged in developing GSTC-based sustainable tourism standards for supply chains in Thailand with several trainings and workshops, in cooperation with the Thai government, non-profits, and international tourism organizations. Supi has been instrumental in winning the PATA Gold Award for CSR-Map Project. She currently manages the the Royal Silk Holidays and the Country Lake Nature Lodge in partnership with Travelife working towards sustainability in tourism.
It’s my honor also to join the Asian Ecotourism Networks recently on behalf of TEATA to co-operate with friends in ecotourism business to exchange knowledge and promote ecotourism within Asia and worldwide.
ARY S SUHANDI
Executive Director of the Indonesian Ecotourism Network (INDECON since 2002, Ary Suhandi earned his degree in biology at the National University (Jakarta, Indonesia). Considered a “Ecotourism enthusiast” by the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism , Ary has been a leader of nature-based tourism in Indonesia since 1987. His work has involved establishing and supporting ecotourism, community-based tourism, and conservation education programs in 15 of Indonesia’s 36 provinces. Ary’s career history includes tourism enterprise development, program management, site monitoring and evaluation, field research, and tour operations for international agencies including Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, the Asian Development Bank, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Japan). As a nationally and internationally recognized expert in nature and community-based tourism, Ary has served on the selection committees for international tourism awards administered by National Geographic Travelers (USA), and the World Travel and Tourism Council (UK).
A Sustainable Tourism pioneer advocate specializing in Green Destinations Development and Management, Awards and Certification Program, with community social responsibility at grassroots application. A staunch innovator, resource person and keynote speaker in Sustainable Tourism training and capacity building to include Ecotourism, Community-based and Agri-Tourism. President & CEO of Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. (SST), she was a Consultant and Adviser for Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Philippines and currently advising national, regional and community-based organizations in Southeast Asia. Founding Board Member of the Asian Ecotourism Network, Green Destinations Southeast Asia Partner and Representative, and UNWTO Multi Advisory Council - MAC Partner.
A savvy tourism professional and hotelier with more than 20 years’ experience managing sales, marketing, operations, events - M.I.C.E. and human resources for small and luxury hotel resorts, tour operators, travel agencies, lifestyle events and publications in the Philippines, Singapore, Peru, Japan and currently, based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
SUSAN SANTO DE CARDENAS
Gana (PhD) is an advocate of sustainable tourism development and leader on strengthen the network of tourism practitioners and researchers in Mongolia and neighboring regions. He has done significant research works ("Science doctor" degree specialized on socio cultural and philosophical aspects of tourism) focusing on developing tourism as the core engine of competitive economic diversity, supporting local livelihoods and conservation of nature and culture across the country. He is founder of the leading tour operator company, named " Active and Adventure Tours Mongolia" AATM LLC in Mongolia. His scientific papers and articles on tourism development and sustainability were published by the UNWTO and other international journals. And he has 30 years of expertise and experiences in tourism in general and ecotourism working in Mongolia and overseas including Asian and European markets. He is currently the governing board member of the Asian region at the World Association of Travel Agencies (WATA, Switzerland) and several national professional organizations.
GANA DAMBA GANTEMUR
He developed Asian Adventures into an iconic name that promotes ecotourism through the tours and retreats across the Indian subcontinent. It is a all-encompassing entity, not only in terms of destinations spread across but also the genres of travelling. He coordinated with a dedicated team to help the organization reach new heights. The growing age of the company has brought three elements in abundance, promising ideas to add extra dimensions to travelling, aggressiveness to serving and maintaining highest standards of commitment with quality. The travel solutions offered carry transparency, uniqueness and a glorious experience in the end. He established ecolodges to promote responsible tourism at destinations like Sundarbans National Park, Gir National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Doon Valley, Pangot, Jageshwar and Abbott Mount. Asian Adventures is now the largest tour operator in India of bird tourism. He has imparted ecotourism knowledge to Adventure Tourism Operators Association, National Certification and Conservation of Forests to develop framework for implementation. He has been conducting periodic webinars during the pandemic to exchange knowledge and illustrating the work of NGOs, stalwarts and associations to an ever-growing audience for ecotourism, conservation travel, spirituality and ethical digital business norms.
Dr Alan Wong retired from the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2018. He was the Vice-Chair of AEN (2019-2021) and currently a board member representing Hong Kong and China. He is the founder and consultant for G&D Tourism, Hospitality and Educational Consulting. He received the first Teaching Excellence Award from SHTM in 2002 and Service Excellence Award in 2017. He serves as an advisor to Hong Kong Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve and the China Ecological Civilization Research. He is a Green Destination auditor/advisor. He was a GSTC trainer between 2016-2019. He published articles in different hospitality, educational and management journals as well.
Member, Hongkong and China
Samir is an entrepreneur and an educator of the hospitality. He is Nepal’s first Certified hospitality educator in Nepal and the founding partner and director of the American Hospitality Academy IHMS of USA with several other hotel management schools running across the USA, Nepal, South Africa, Philippines, Turkey, India and Bhutan. He served as the president of Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE) which is the World`s Largest Hospitality & Tourism Educator`s umbrella organization. He is a visiting faculty of Tourism schools in various universities located in USA, UK, Turkey, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Sri Lanka and The Netherlands. Currently, Samir runs three Tourism & Hospitality Management colleges, a Business Management College, and two High schools in Nepal. He is also involved in horticulture and livestock farming, domestic aviation, logistic management and beautification products.
Soulinnara is a young professional who graduated her Master Degree in Hospitality Management from Paris, France. She started her career as independence consultant for a small hotel in Vientiane Capital before moving to Agoda Hotel Reservation Online Company as a Market Executive for Business Development Sector. After working for Agoda for a year, she found out that to develop tourism industry, we have to start by developing human resource, so she applied for a teacher position in Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (Lanith). Now she works at Lanith as a core team teacher specialize in Food and Beverage Service Operations along with administrative work. As Lanith is one of the organizations that pay attention to Responsible Tourism, Soulinnara has spent sometimes to translate GSTC Booklet into Lao language by the supporting of Lanith Team and providing that booklet to students, private and public sectors in the tourism prospective. In 2014, she won a prestigious award from Pacific Asia Travel Association under the title “PATA Face of The Future” as the recognition of young professional who shows highly interest and support to Tourism Industry.
I would like to contribute to promote Ecotourism in Laos with real understanding of what is Ecotourism and how we can apply it into Lao tourism as a whole.
Karma works as a freelance consultant for the company he founded called Eco-Call (www.ecocalling.com) specialized in tourism planning and management besides others. He previously worked for the Government of Bhutan as a specialist for Nature recreation and ecotourism under Department of Forests and Park services. He started his career in the conservation sector as the National coordinator for the Tiger Conservation Project. It was during those years of conducting tiger surveys which further affirmed his conviction that addressing community concerns was a critical link to conservation. He completed his masters in resource management from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and obtained his Doctorate from the University of Sydney looking at community based tourism as a positive force for the protected areas of Bhutan. Through his many years of experience both in the field and in planning he takes a practical approach to conservation and a firm believer of incentive based conservation. He has been instrumental in promoting community based eco-tourism within the extensive network of Bhutan’s protected areas. With the rapid urbanization of Bhutan he shares great concern in the future development of Bhutan’s tourism. He is a passionate conservationist and remains hopeful that tourism will be the most important sector in Bhutan to make significant contribution to the country’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. He also serves as an evaluator for the Nat Geo Unique Lodges Program. Besides his work he enjoys engaging himself in social work to help the underprivileged.
Following a degree in national park management from Lincoln University, New Zealand and a master’s degree in tourism from Hokkaido University in Japan, Kazuhiro (Kazu) established Daisetsuzan Nature School in 2001. The school is based in Daisetsuzan National Park in Japan and provides eco tours, environmental education, and nature conservation programmes with the concept of “conservation by users”. Kazu tries to create a system of “wise use” with the local community towards a sustainability management. Kazu is also a board member of Ecotourism Japan, and works as a Japanese GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) project member and a GSTC trainer, as well as a board member of WIN AINU (World Indigenous Network-AINU) which encourages AINU culture to be handed down for the future generation.
I would like to promote sustainable tourism in Japan through ecotourism practice as a tool for community development. I am interested in developing effective methods of encouraging tourists and locals to be happily responsible with their respect on others, culture, and environment. These should be achieved by many types of communications that are fun and neat rather than just putting signs up.
Timothy Teo is passionate about ecolodges and creating unique experiences. Graduating from UNSW (Sydney) in Civil Engineering (Hons) and also an MBA from AGSM, Timothy has spent more than 10 years creating new community based ecotourism and wildlife safari experiences in Borneo. Timothy is also well versed in the field of digital web marketing and harnessing of new technologies to drive better travel experiences.
TIMOTHY TEO CHIN CHUAN
A volunteer Member Secretary for the Bhutan Sustainable Tourism Society and serves as a Director and senior facilitator at Athang Private Limited, an organization dedicated to education, youth skilling and ICT development in Bhutan. She is also a steering committee member for the Trans Bhutan Trail project. Tshering has been responsible for development of community-based sustainable tourism in Phobjikha valley in Wangduephodrang district and the Haa valley in Bhutan while working with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature. Cherishing her experience of having worked with communities for many years, Choki still continues to pursue her passion for sustainable tourism development and engages herself in community development projects. She has also been working in projects dedicated to cultural landscape conservation integrating education and livelihood opportunities for communities through tourism.
It is my honor also to join the Asian Ecotourism Networks on behalf of the Bhutan Sustainable Tourism Society. As a motivating factor, Bhutan has always promoted ecotourism within the framework of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) philosophy. I will commit with my passion, interest and dedication to support the promotion of sustainable tourism within and outside Bhutan
Holds more than 13 years of work experiences in tourism development; during this period, she has been consecutively in dialogue with various local, national and international stakeholders, including public, private, civil society organizations and ground communities. She has extensive experiences in planning, leadership, organizational development, public relations, project coordination and management, capacity building and research analysis. Based on her excellent work and qualifications, she has been designated in 2016 as the quality and standards Expert for ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals based in Jakarta. Working in many multi-sectoral and multi-cultural team environments, Sophea has had the opportunity to embrace the different ideas of others, as well as learn how to approach and tackle problems from a different perspective. Sophea’s experiences with Cambodia Community Based Ecotourism Network (CCBEN) provided her the opportunity to develop the Community-Based Tourism Standards which later has been used as references to develop the ASEAN Community Based Tourism Standards and has been endorsed and used throughout the Southeast Asia countries. In addition, she also conducted many studies and researches for the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), SNV Netherlands Development Organization, WWF, SwissContact on ecotourism market studies, tourism destination management, feasibility studies, training needs assessment and various capacity building programmes. Sophea holds a Master in International Development Studies from the Graduate Institute of Geneva, Switzerland, which has built her confidence and planted the success of her professional career. Her bachelor degree in Tourism Management has provided a strong foundation in tourism development, further reinforced by her expertise and working knowledge gained in the tourism sector since 2007. Working at the management level for more than 10 years has provided her with the skills and insight to think and work strategically, utilizing sound judgement and a broad perspective that anticipates consequences and forecasts a range of win-win scenarios.
He started his dream for tourism in 1987 after seeing adventure tourist climbing the highest Mountain (Mt. Wilhelm) 4509 m in Papua New Guinea, which he himself submitted 35 times, now. Frequent by-passing tourists experience and interests grew into passion for tourism in his life and then he pursued a fulltime interest in tourism. Chris has been involved in Tourist Guiding and Porters service within his community for 5 solids years. In 1995, he undertook Diploma in Tourism and attained Tourism Project Development in 2006 with International Finance Corporation (IFC) and worked in tourism sector for 30 years as community ecotourism advocator.He has been actively involved in Hotel Marketing and Tutor at Port Moresby Business Training Institute for Ecotourism in 2002. He has written the first PNG ecotourism Training Manual developed locally with source from sustainable tourism resource and outsource. He has also worked with Samuel Kepuknai for his community bird watching lodge in 2003-2005 and developed eco standard lodge and facilities in remote Western Province. Also developed Ecotourism Home base concept and conducted training for community tourism for rural PNG Communities. In 2006, formed PNG Eco Tours, ecotourism specialist Tour Company providing adventures tours for last the 20 Years. Providing Tour Guiding and Porters service to tourist all over the world. Currently, in 2019 till now, he is the event Coordinator for Karimui Conservation, Agriculture & Cultural Show promoting community sustainable tourism in rural community. He also serves as the Ecotourism Technical Officer for Partners With Melanesian Inc., a PNG Based NGO specialized in Community conservation and livelihood development in rural PNG (Community conservation area tourism projects in 4 Protected Area Projects in PNG)
Create a frame work that can influence PNG Ecotourism Operators to reach and achieve standards and practise.
Conduct road shows in PNG and connect all AEN Members to attend and share their experience.
Also invite a membership in PNG from 2021-2025 to form sector of PNG Ecotourism Network desk here.
CHRIS JAMIE SALEY
Member, Papua New Guinea
Nantapol Khaimuk left a career in finance and banking to pursue his true passion in outdoor activities and traveling. As a diplomat’s son, he has lived in many countries that has brought him a diverse and multicultural perspective in managing his adventure park and bicycle tours business. He is also serving as the Vice-President (Adventure) at the Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA). Since 2007 with Little World Co., Ltd., he has managed Tree Top Adventure Park one of Thailand’s first brands to bring soft adventure concept–ropes courses, zip lines, canopy walks, and other activities using trees to Thailand. The first branch in Koh Chang received two consecutive Thailand Tourism Awards and expanded the franchise nationally to four locations and regionally as a contractor to build exciting adventure activities. Through Urban Adventures Co., Ltd., he designs and builds innovating adventure facilities including the latest cafe on top of a santol fruit orchard, “On the Tree Prachinburi”. In 2014 he went after another passion and co-founded Octo Cycling Tours which pioneered in bringing Thai cyclists to on trips abroad. The first trip was to Japan, quickly followed by Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Germany, Austria, and Serbia. He continues to promote routes in his home country - Thailand. As an international board member to the Asian Ecotourism Network, he is honored to place his highest efforts and experiences to the challenging roles and responsibilities at the AEN."
Nipatpong love to live meaningful lives with less as minimalist.He believe in nature healing power so he found the company "TREKKINGTHAI". Ecotourism Tour Operator specializing in trekking and forest bathing. His website Trekkingthai.com is one of the most famous travel website in Thailand that inspire Thai people to get connect with nature since 1999. Experienced with all stages of the development cycle for sustainable tour program.Well-versed in travel experience design and digital marketing. Strong background in Standard development and Conservation projects such as Carbon Neutral holidays campaign.
Kyi Kyi Aye (Ms) is currently Senior Advisor and Tourism Consultant at the Myanmar Tourism Federation. She has extensive experience, leading consulting teams and coordinating within Myanmar governance, private sector organizations and development partners. as well as a strong network among public private partnerships. Over the last 12 years, since retirement from 30 years of service at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Kyi Kyi Aye has worked as a free lance Myanmar national consultant in different regions of the country, leading a range of projects related to tourism planning and management strategies on ecotourism, cultural and heritage management, capacity building and human resource development , inclusive tourism development, rural development, SME competitiveness, poverty reduction, gender equity, child safe , and hygiene and safety. She has a wide network with the government, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and tourism related departments, the private sector , the Myanmar Tourism Federation and works closely with key stakeholders in the Union of Myanmar Travel Association, Myanmar Hoteliers’ Association, Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association, Myanmar Tourism Human Resources Development Association, Myanmar Hospitality Professional Association, Myanmar Restaurants’ Association , Myanmar Tour Guides Association, and Myanmar Souvenir Production Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar Transportation Services Association, and Myanmar Domestic Pilgrimage Association; as well as with the FDI hotels in Myanmar. Her greatest advantage is having earnest relationship with the national and regional government administrative authorities, parliamentarians, community elders , tourism and trade business sector, and relevant stakeholders.Kyi Kyi Aye’s expertise during the past years as a tourism specialist, has involved her in many other tourism and related projects with several international development partners leading to the formulation of Myanmar Tourism Master Plan, Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy , Community Involvement in Tourism, Myanmar Ecotourism Policy and Management Strategy in Protected Areas, Inlay Lake Conservation and Management Action Plan, Tourism Capacity Building and HRD Development and HRD action plans for the Ministry and the private sector. She has worked with international experts and integrated with other findings which covered ecology, water, health and sanitation, agriculture, sedimentation and agroforestry and natural resource management, watershed ecosystem, diversity of the ethnic groups, tourism SMEs, uphill and downhill communities. She has done rapid tourism value chain assessments in key tourist destinations; organized trainings and shared tourism knowledge with the parliamentarians, tour operators, hoteliers and tourist guides as well as tourism graduates and undergraduates. Kyi Kyi Aye has a vast knowledge of the Myanmar legislature structure, laws , rules and regulations related to tourism business, cultural heritage, conservation and preservation, wildlife conservation, rural development, climate change, SME development, labor and diverse ethnic groups.
To support AEN’s objectives in promoting ecotourism in Myanmar with a focus on gender and social inclusions in developing strategies, action plans, project activities and trainings .
KYI KYI AYE
Joselito Costas organized the Bojo Aloguinsan Ecotourism Association in Cebu and developed the Aloguinsan River Eco-cultural Tour which turned fishermen and their families into community tourism champions and won 5 global awards in ecotourism: the 2015 United Nations Inspire Award in Community Tourism, the 2017 ASEAN Award in Community Tourism and a three-peat win as Top 100 Global Sustainable Destinations in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Through his company Grassroots Travel, he has trained local communities, local government units, private companies, resorts, hotels, tour guides, and tour operators on ecotourism and sustainable tourism strategies across the country and around the Asia-Pacific region. He sits as Board of Director of Eco Exploration, Philippine Parks and Biodiversity and the Bangkok-based Asian Ecotourism Network. The Department of Tourism awarded him the Philippine National Tourism Award (KALAKBAY) in 2003. In 2015, the University of San Carlos awarded him the Most Outstanding Alumnus in the field of Community Service. He was a University of California Berkeley Beahrs Environmental
Leadership Fellow in 2016, the same year he was recognized by Philippine Airlines as one of the Inspiring Filipinos. He was the Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer from 2016 to 2019.
Prof.Dr. Jennifer Chan Kim Lian is a Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Faculty of Business, Economics and Accountancy, Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Currently, she is the Director of Borneo Tourism Research Centre; Professorial Chair Holder in the field of Tourism and Human Capital Development 2017 - 2018; International Visiting Professorial Fellow, Royal Institute of Singapore, Honorary President of the Royal Institute of Tourism and Royal Institute of Educators, Singapore; Advisory Committee Member of the World Gastronomy Institute, Spain. Professor Jennifer is an experienced tourism and hospitality researcher, consultant, and academician with professional experience in the field concerned. Her research focuses on sustainable and responsible tourism, human resource development, consumer behaviour, service experience, qualitative and mixed methods research.
JENNIFER CHAN KIM LIAN
Evi Aryati Arbay is an Indonesian author, photographer, and ethnographer of the indigenous people and culture for Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and Africa. For over nineteen years, Evi has documented the daily lives of people through books and photo essays capturing the diversity of culture and expressions of life. Her best-sellers include Dani, the Highlander – a book about the Dani tribe of the Jayawaijaya mountain range in New Guinea and Baduy Locked in Time. She is a recipient of several national and International Books for Professional Awards and photography awards including the Best book in Asia Pacific Cersion Eska Frog Award
EVI ARTAY ARBAY
He joined Taiwan Ecotourism Association(TEA) since its establishment in 2001 as one of the founding members. And being elected as one of the board members or supervisors since 2005 to help promote ecotourism activities in Taiwan. The TEA joined AEN since 2016 and I or with Mr. CT Wu individually on behalf of TEA participating in all the meetings held by AEN thereafter. It’s great for me to be awarded as a qualified trainee after joining the 3-day-workshop of Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) while participating in the AEN annual meeting in Thailand in 2018. And it’s good for me to pay another technical visit arranged by AEN/GSTC in 2019 as no need to take the training workshop. Also being a committee member of Agriculture Extension Committee and Organic Center of my University (National ILan University) respectively, I dedicate a lot my time and efforts on Agricultural Ecotourism particularly in some remote communities or indigenous villages. My current research partly focused on the application of vermicomposting with the eco-farming as well applying biological control on the invasive golden apple snail. My belief is that only when the environment is getting better, the people and the tourism industry will be better. I’ll keep on doing something good like promoting ecotourism and organic agriculture/aquaculture as well other eco-farming sectors.
Dr. Zhang Yujun, who earned PhD in Forest Planning at Tottori University in Japan, is currently professor in Department of Tourism Management at Beijing Forestry University. Dr. Zhang is also a director of the Center for Ecotourism Development Research in Beijing Forestry University, a member and deputy secretary-general of Ecological Tourism Committee of Ecological Society of China and the Technical Committee on Wetland Protection of Standardization Committee of China. In addition, he is an executive director of Forest Park subdivision of Chinese Society of Forestry and Forest Tourism subdivision of China National Forestry Industry Association, and a director of Beijing Tourism Society. Additionally, he is an editorial board member of Tourism Tribune and Chinese Ecotourism Magazine.
He is the founder of a number of highly successful businesses in Laos. He is President of Green Discovery Laos, the leading company for adventure tours and eco-tourism in Laos and the founder of three successful restaurants in Vientiane, and several hotels outside the capital. This remarkable man, who was born in a cave and went on to study at Moscow University, has completed the Iron Man challenge and continually strives for excellence in everything he does. His businesses now support more the 2,000 families, whilst embracing an ethos of strong social, cultural and environmental responsibility.