Thailand’s Northeastern or Isan province of Nakhon Phanom has been chosen as the host venue for the Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) 2018. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports proposed Nakhon Phanom as an ideal host venue for the event because the province’s eastern border is the Mekong River itself and this influences the culture of the region.
Nakhon Phanom, which means “The City of Mountains”, is being promoted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as an up-and-coming tourist destination in Isan, as the province boasts modern infrastructure with convenient road and air connections. The 3rd Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the Mekong connects Nakhon Phanom with Lao PDR’s Thakhek Khammouane region, and there are daily Nok Air and Thai AirAsia flights to and from Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor said, “Nakhon Phanom, which borders the Mekong River, is an ideal venue for this regional conference. The province offers amazing Mekong scenery and culture, and of course, the warm Isan hospitality. We’re excited to showcase this lovely province to delegates of the MTF 2018.”
Nakhon Phanom offers many beautiful and timeless natural and cultural attractions; such as, the annual illuminated boat procession in October to mark the end of Buddhist Lent (Ok Phansa) and the folk culture of the local Phu Thai ethnic group. The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge also contributes to cross-border trade and tourism by making it easy for tourists looking to visit both Lao PDR and Thailand to explore the Mekong culture.
In Nakhon Phanom city itself, there are many attractions for tourists including temples; such as, Wat Phra That Phanom, which was built in the local style and is one of the most important temples in Isan. Other attractions include the Provincial Governor’s Residence Museum with its neo-Colonial architecture and Mekong Underwater World, which teaches visitors about the underwater life and ecosystems of the river.
In terms of accommodation, Nakhon Phanom has a good range of high-quality hotels with the more upmarket hotels offering Mekong River views. There has been an increase in people visiting Nakhon Phanom for meetings and conferences, and Nakhon Phanom University participates in the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau’s MICE Curriculum Programme, ensuring that the region will have professional meeting and events expertise on hand as the sector grows.
Organised by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the MTF gives stakeholders in the region, both public and private, a platform for joint discussions on the promotion and marketing of travel and tourism to and within the GMS countries – Cambodia, China’s Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces, Lao PDR., Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The forum also promotes sustainable growth in the industry and invites keynote speakers to talk on tourism issues.
MTF was first organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in 1996 and the hosting rotated among GMS nations until 2005. The event was revived by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office in 2010 and is now held annually. MTF was most recently held in Thailand in 2012 in the northern province of Chiang Rai. Last year, the Forum was held in June in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.