New Khon Kaen centre focuses on agriculture, education and medical sectors

The Khon Kaen International Convention & Exhibition Centre (KICE) offering 25,000 square metres of meeting space, has opened to drive more international business events to the north-eastern region of Thailand. Until now, hotels and universities were the only available meeting venues. Located 15 minutes from the local Khon Kaen airport, KICE is the third largest convention and exhibition centre in Thailand and Khon Kaen is one of the five MICE cities identified by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.

Channarong Buristrakul, co-founder of the Khon Kaen Think Tank, said: “The biggest business event in Khon Kaen to date is 5,000 attendees, held about three years ago. But with the KICE, we can have a conference for 10,000.”

Buristrakul added that although Khon Kaen lacks a convention bureau, the private sector, along with the support of 80 businesses, has raised enough funds to set up Khon Kaen MICE Management – a private sector initiative formed in 2017 – to play the role of a local convention bureau. It is now looking at attracting regional business events from Laos and Vietnam.

KICE is privately owned and managed by CP Land. The company expects to have at least 24 events organised at KICE in 2018 with an occupancy of 40 per cent in the first year of operation. It aims for a 65 per cent occupancy in the fifth year. Revenue from the fourth year onwards is targeted at 180-200 million Baht a year. The goal is to reach the break-even point within eight years.

Khon Kaen will need to market its attractiveness as a destination and create more awareness of its business event capabilities. Buristrakul said: “We don’t have enough attractions such as the seaside, beaches and mountains. We also need to create more activities and attractions for pre and post- tours. However, we are strong in the fields of agriculture, education and medical, and these are the sectors we want to attract.”