By Imtiaz Muqbil
The presence of two convention centres in the northeastern Thailand province of Khon Kaen, one within the premises of a major university and the other within a major shopping complex, has laid the groundwork for the increasingly important city to market itself as a destination for meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE).
For the first time, Khon Kaen exhibited at an international MICE trade show in Bangkok from 1–3 October 2013.
The second-largest province in the northeastern region, Khon Kaen has been designated by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau as the country’s fifth “MICE City” after Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. Once an impoverished region plagued by years of drought, Northeast Thailand will grow in commercial and economic importance when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) takes hold in 2015. As Khon Kaen’s airport is not yet open to scheduled international flights, the province’s most important linkage comes via the Asian Highway, which passes through en route to the neighbouring landlocked country of Laos.
Over the past few years, the Royal Thai government has launched policies to promote Khon Kaen as a major hub for information & communications technology (ICT), agriculture, industry, tourism, and service sectors. This will cover everything from enhancing production of rice, sugarcane, cassava, eucalyptus, and mulberries (for use in Thai silk) to boosting the appeal of tourist attractions, including the numerous national parks, museums, and heritage sites.
The region’s heritage as a part of the ancient Khmer empire has given it a rich mix of cultures, traditions, and historical sites. One of the earliest places in the world known to produce bronze ware, Khon Kaen is also famous as a major centre for production of Thailand’s famous Mudmee silk. In addition to being the home of one of Thailand’s most picturesque reservoirs, it has numerous Khmer-style ruins, dinosaur excavation sites, and idyllic rice fields. According to one promotional brochure, “Beyond city limits, the calm, picturesque E-Sarn (Thai for “northeast”) heartlands take over. Commercialisation has yet to encroach upon much of E-Sarn, and the business visitor will quickly discover another facet of the Thai identity here.”
The city’s two convention centres are:
Golden Jubilee Convention Hall, Khon Kaen University
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s accession to the throne, Khon Kaen University constructed the Golden Jubilee Convention Hall. Today, it is considered the pride of northeastern Thailand, located just 4 kilometers from the airport and 1.5 kilometers from the central business district. Equipped with state-of-the-art multimedia technology, the hall is located in the midst of elegantly manicured grounds and has 500 on-site parking spaces, with additional capacity for up to 30 buses.
The hall’s campus location makes it perfect for educational and academic conventions and conferences. According to its website, Khon Kaen University is the largest education and learning centre in Northeast Thailand. It was one of four regional universities established in 1964 as part of a decentralized development plan for higher education in Thailand.
The roughly 900-hectare campus is today home to more than 2,110 staff in 17 faculties, four academic support centers, two academic services centers, a hospital, and many research institutes and centres of excellence, with more in the pipeline. It has a student population of nearly 24,000 undergraduates and more than 9,700 postgraduates, including 114 international students. It is also host to the E-Sarn software park and the Northeastern Sciences and Technology Park, making KKU an active hub for innovation and research.
More info: www.gjchall.com
Khon Kaen Hall, Central Plaza Khon Kaen
Khon Kaen Hall is located in the heart of Khon Kaen adjacent to Central Plaza shopping and a retail complex. The hall itself has an area of 2,500 square meters, with superb audio-visual facilities and an indoor parking lot.
More info: www.cpnhall.com/en/convention_detail.aspx?id=2
Building upon this “hardware,” Khon Kaen province marked its presence at the IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific trade show in Bangkok in October 2012 by publishing a marketing brochure titled: “10 Reasons to Choose Khon Kaen” for a MICE event. These are the 10 reasons listed:
• Conference facilities: Accommodation, experience and service offer genuine value for money. Khon Kaen is recognised for its exquisite accommodation, experiences, and services, all at highly competitive prices.
• Convenient location: Khon Kaen is the gateway to Indochina and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). It has convenient links from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports (domestic flights only).
• Rich culture: Northeast Thailand has a rich cultural background, incredible diversity, and a climate suitable for travel almost year round.
• Vibrant and fun: Khon Kaen people are fun-loving, and the city is full of events and celebrations.
• Sensational E-Sarn cuisine: A wealth of unique dining experiences.
• Warmest hospitality: Khon Kaen offers warm hospitality to make visitors feel welcome and comfortable. The city is also committed to provide the best services and support for the successful hosting of events.
• Combination of city life and countryside: With some of the finest natural spots in the country, Khon Kaen is the ultimate twin-center destination, combining the energy of the city with the fascinating local culture and natural beauty of the rice fields.
• Sustainability: The city’s abundant natural environment is preserved though progressive city policies. Khon Kaen city has taken on eco-friendly programs such as Building Energy Management System and performs onsite alternative energy testing.
• Security: Khon Kaen has earned a reputation as a city with high level of safety, security, and sanitation. It is also a medical and education hub of the Northeastern region.
• Value for money plus quality: A “safe bet” meeting destination with tremendous value for money. This fact has made Khon Kaen a popular choice for incentive events. Roll out the red carpet and still keep within budget.
Khon Kaen reflects the realities of an emerging Asian century where a new generation of ideas will lead to a new level of thinking. To hold a major convention in such a place is both a networking opportunity and an educational exercise par excellence. That is what Khon Kaen makes different from all the others.