MTF heads for China in 2019

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CHIANG RAI, 13 June 2018: China will host the Mekong Tourism Forum in 2019, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office executive director, Jens Thraenhart, confirmed at the weekend.

This year, the Mekong Tourism Forum will be held 26 to 29 June in Nakhon Phanom, a northeast Thailand town that stands on the banks of the Mekong River.

But looking forward Thraenhart said China, which is a founding member of the Mekong Region Tourism Working Group, has already confirmed the 2019 event will be hosted in Yunnan province.

Mekong Tourism is a grouping of six countries; Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.  China is represented in the Tourism Working Group by just two provinces, Yunnan and Guang Xi.

Thraenhart, who is still waiting to see if the TWG countries will renew his MTCO employment contract that expires 30 June, said it was likely that the MTF in 2019 would be held during May.

That would prevent it clashing with events such as Thailand’s TTM trade show.

There are no hints of which city in Yunnan province will be designated to host the event. In the past when it was Yunnan’s turn to host the forum, it was always held in the provincial capital Kunming.

However, if that is the choice there will be groans from MTF veterans who would much prefer to see China host this event in Xishuangbanna, a city that is close to the Mekong River (Lancang in Chinese).

Xishuangbanna is an autonomous prefecture in China’s southwestern Yunnan province, close to Myanmar and Laos.

It is on the highway to Mongla on the China-Myanmar border a distance of 721 km and 425 km north of Chiang Rai province where the Mekong River becomes the border between Thailand and Laos.

Xishuangbanna is best-known as the home of the Dai ethnic group’s Water-Splashing Festival (around April 13 to 15), which is similar to Thailand’s Songkran festival, but also includes dragon-boat races and floating river lanterns.

There are other possible sites for the MTF including Lijiang famed for its old town dating back to the 1300s and is the gateway for tours to Tiger Leaping Gorge and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

The Snow Mountain with glaciers and 13 peaks, is traversed by cable cars, including a ride ascending to 4,500 metres.

Lijiang stands at an altitude of around 2,800 metres requiring hotels to have oxygen support units for guests. Lijiang district is home to several other ethnic minority groups.

At a stretch the MTF delegates might like the idea of travelling further afield in Yunnan province to a MTF venue in Shangri-la City, formerly called Zhongdian County, but renamed Shangri-La after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the 1933 James Hilton novel ‘Lost Horizon’.

Finally, there is Kunming a modern capital city and the transportation hub of China’s southern Yunnan province, blessed with a temperate year-round climate. For many MTF veterans they would sum their enthusiasm for a return to this city as “been there, done it”. But it does have a vast array of hotels and flights from most major cities in Asia making a good choice for business events.

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