By The Nation
Sitting on the bank of the Mekong River opposite Laos, the provincial capital is considered a cultural influencer in the Isaan region and draws visitors for its many unique cultural attractions like the annual illuminated boat procession in October that marks the end of the Buddhist Lent.
Organised by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the forum 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. It also promotes sustainable growth in the industry and invites keynote speakers to talk on tourism issues.
“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, warm Isaan hospitality. We’re excited to showcase this lovely province to delegates of the MTF 2018,” said governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
The name means the city of mountains and the Tourism Authority of Thailand is promoting it as an up-and-coming tourist destination in Isaan thanks to its modern infrastructure and convenient road and air connections.
Tourist attractions include Wat Phra That Phanom, the neo-colonial Provincial Governor’s Residence Museum and Mekong Underwater World, which teaches visitors about the underwater life and ecosystems of the river.
The third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the Mekong connects Nakhon Phanom with Lao PDR’s Thakhek Khammouane region and both Nok Air and Thai AirAsia offer daily flights from Don Mueang International Airport.
The city 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.
MTF was 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.