Do you ever heard of Khon Kaen? Most Thai would say ‘yes’ of course but how about the rest of the world?
Strangely, the city is one of the largest in Thailand with a population of 140,000 inhabitants. It is one of the four “big” cities” of Isan with Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani. It is located 450 km northeast of Bangkok on the way to Udon Thani and Laos. Khon Kaen is well known for its university which is the most renowned in the Isan region.
And it might now be well known as a convention city, as stated by Mrs. Supawan Teerarat, Senior Vice President Strategic Business Development and Innovation for TCEB, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau. “Khon Kaen emerged in recent years as a first class city in recent years. The city spruced up its image with new attractions, contemporary malls, boutique hotels and trendy restaurants, eateries and bars. The city has also its fair share of temples and museums for travellers,” she explained.
The province is considered a gateway to the Greater Mekong Sub-region. It is known for its rich traditional Isan culture and history, where visitors can experience the lifestyle of the local people, enjoy delicious food, explore pre-historical artefacts and antiques, and learn about the famous Matmi silk production.
Khon Kaen welcomed in 2016 4.56 million visitors (up by 17.4% over 2015), the majority being domestic travellers. International visitors represent a very tiny number. The city recorded only 69,644 international travellers in 2016, of which 46,122 were tourists. Surprisingly, the largest number of foreign travellers come from Europe, France being number 1 (5,416 tourists in accommodation in 2016) followed by Germany (3,340 tourists) and the UK (3,252 tourists). Among ASEAN travellers, only Laotians represented a significant inbound market with 2,049 travellers in hotels.
More exposure will then be provided to Khon Kaen with the hosting from November 28 to November 30 of PATA Destination Marketing Forum.
Talking during the ATF, Mrs. Srisuda Wananpinyosak, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas), said TAT is pleased to provide full support to the event, as it reflects TAT’s ongoing efforts to promote Thai local experiences and drive income to local communities, all geared towards tourism sustainability.
Mrs. Srisuda said: “All these impressive aspects of Khon Kaen make it the perfect venue to host this prestigious PATA Destination Marketing Forum 2018. Delegates attending this event can engage with local communities, an important part of unique Thai local experiences. This goes in line with the TAT’s latest communication concept, ‘Open to the New Shades’, that encourages visitors to discover Thailand and its diversity.”
Mrs. Teerarat stated, “The PATA Destination Marketing Forum 2018 event will serve as a driving force for international MICE events in Thailand, contributing to implement the government’s policy of stimulating and developing the regional economy. Khon Kaen is one of Thailand’s leading MICE cities, with strong potential and readiness to host international conventions to world-class standards. The city has already built a strong track record in hosting numerous high-profile MICE events.”
According to the PATA Destination Marketing Forum 2018 programme, the event will be held under the theme ‘Growth with Goals’. The Forum focuses on trends facing destination marketers around the world as they deal with ‘over-tourism’ in some areas, and ‘under-tourism’ in others. As tourists become ‘temporary locals’ no matter where they visit, and technology empowers them more than ever before destinations need to define what growth means to them and ensure that tourism is truly growing responsibly.
“This event offers an important platform for all MICE stakeholders. In particular the event will maximize benefits to Thai participants both from Khon Kaen itself, and from secondary MICE cities around the country. TCEB negotiated waivers of registration fees for Thai operators and relevant government agencies for the event. The event will contribute greatly to raising visibility and awareness of Khon Kaen and other regional MICE cities as international MICE destinations”, added Mrs. Teerarat.
The choice of Khon Kaen is also supporting TCEB commitment to supporting responsible, low-impact, sustainable growth in the MICE business, to harness MICE events to benefit local communities.
The three-day Forum will comprise a technical tour on the first day, followed by two days of speeches and presentations on various topics relating to destination marketing including the role of local experiences, managing the disconnection between destination organisation and communities, trans border marketing, fighting ‘undertourism’, and calculating the impact on destinations. PATA is offering complimentary registration to all interested in attending.
Dr. Mario Hardy, PATA CEO, said: “PATA is a strong advocate on the issue of tourism dispersal to secondary and tertiary destinations, as it allows people to see the true authentic beauty of the country and its people, and at the same time provide an economic boost to local communities who greatly benefit from tourism.”