CHIANG MAI, 29 January 2018: Khon Kaen a popular venue for domestic events and seminars in Northeast Thailand hopes the arrival of a Pacific Asia Travel Association event, later this year, will open the door to more regional meetings.

The PATA Destination Marketing Forum 2018 (PDMF 2018) will be hosted in Khon Kaen, Thailand, 28 to 30 November, underwritten by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thailand Convention and Exhibitions Bureau.

They have identified Khon Kaen as a so-called MICE* city, but for Khon Kaen the label so far has seen it attract mostly domestic events.

That could change with the PATA event that will attract around 250 to 300 travel leaders and stakeholders from the Asia-Pacific region.

Formerly known as the PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum, and rebranded for 2018, the event’s theme is “Growth with Goals”. Support from TAT and TCEB means that local delegates are subsidised with free registration.

PATA along with the supporting agencies and Khon Kaen Province vice governor, Santi Laoboonsa-ngiem, announced the event at a press conference during the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Chiang Mai, last Friday.

Calling Khon Kaen a gateway to Northeast Thailand and the neighbouring Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) the vice governor said the recent increase in flights linking the province directly from Phuket, Hat Yai and Chiang Mai had boosted tourism, while further improvements would be made to upgrade the airport. There are plans to establish direct air services from China and Hong Kong this year the vice governor confirmed.

Ironically as he was explaining Khon Kaen’s potential as a transport gateway, fireman were battling a blaze at the city’s airport that forced the evacuation of close to 1,000 passengers and cancelled 16 flights last Friday. The fire was thought to have been caused by an electrical fault. The terminal building was opened in 2005, and was scheduled for a further upgrade this year.

TCEB strategic business development & innovation senior vice president, Supawan Teerarat stated: ” Khon Kaen is one of Thailand’s leading MICE cities, with strong potential and readiness to host international conventions.”

The city has five convention centre venues, one exhibition hall and around 40 international standard hotels. TripAdvisor identifies 67 hotels that are bookable online.

A major highway linking Bangkok with Northeast Thailand and the border with Lao PDR passes the city. It will also have a major station on a high-speed train rail line that will ultimately link China with Lao PDR and Thailand’s capital Bangkok and beyond to Malaysia and Singapore.

Commenting on the emergence of digital tools and channels that are challenging the value of traditional face-to-face events and meetings, PATA’s CEO Mario Hardy said the solution was to embrace new technology, but also create stronger content and storytelling. This would result in more meaningful experiences for delegates, he explained.

“The objective should be to explore the destination, while the forum is an opportunity to ask the question how would we improve and promote it?”

Khon Kaen has been identified by the Thai government as a secondary emerging destination in a bid to spread tourism beyond the major tourism gateways.

Hosting a PATA event in Khon Kaen also highlights the city’s potential to hosts meetings, while delegates can enjoy the province’s colourful festivals. During the PATA event the city will hosts its annual Silk Festival and a week of traditional dance performances that attracts hundreds of dance troupes.

Dr Hardy calls this drift “dispersing tourists” a concept he has raised frequently with government and tourism stakeholders across the region.

“It is something that tourism ministries are now taking seriously,” he added. “We can see it happening in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.”

He added, “Aligning with PATA’s advocacy theme of tourism dispersal, this year’s forum under the theme “Growth with Goals” shines the spotlight on the issue of tourism dispersal to secondary and tertiary destination, as it allows people to see the true authentic beauty of the country and at the same provide an economic boost to local communities who greatly benefit from tourism.”

For more information about the event, visit www.pata.org/pdmf or email [email protected]

* MICE: The business segment of Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions.

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