MTF a big test for Nakhon Phanom

NAKHON PHANOM, 27 June 2018: Nakhon Phanom hosts its first major travel event, this week, as tourism officials from the Mekong Region convene at the Mekong Tourism Forum.

Hosted in the conference hall of the province’s university, the event will test the city’s capabilities to host regional conferences.

It is already a popular venue for government departmental meetings for provinces close to the Mekong River, but hosting more than 400 delegates from the six-country Mekong Region is major step up the ladder.

The Mekong Tourism Forum is the annual event of a six-country bloc; Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Although separated from Laos by the 1 km wide Mekong River and just over 200 km from the border with Vietnam, delegates attending MTF transferred to the town on a single air route from Bangkok.

The airport, which also serves as an air force training base, is linked to Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport and served  by just two low-cost airlines offering four flights daily flights (Thai AirAsia three and Nok Air one).

In 2017, the airport welcomed 419,311 passengers, up 12.2% over 2016 (372,026 passengers). Traffic doubled since 2013 according to data presented in the Mekong Tourism Forum manual.

Nakhon Phanom airport is now the fourth largest in Northeast Thailand, after Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani and Khon Kaen airports.

According to data from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Nakhon Phanom province had a capacity of 2,460 rooms in 2016 with an average occupancy of 51%.

There is no updated information on the percentage of registered, legal accommodation, or the star-rating, but generally the response from delegates suggested properties used by for the forum were around a three-star rating.

International tourism is limited to small groups touring the northeast and some cycling tours following the Mekong River from the northeast town of Nong Khai to Ubon.

Figures are sketchy on tourist arrivals, but the Ministry of Tourism and Sports in its latest update claimed the city welcomed 1.021 million visitors in 2016, up 3.88% over 2015. Thai travellers accounted for 97.8% of all arrivals.