Kaohsiung‚Äôs Asian New Bay Area Redevelopment project will transform the city‚Äôs waterfront precinct
Kaohsiung‚Äôs city government has been building new infrastructure and setting up MICE alliances, reports Prudence Lui
The success of the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan has proven the port city‚Äôs capability in organising international events and led to a slew of major international events for the destination.
In 2013 Kaohsiung welcomed the Asia-Pacific Cities Summit, followed by Taiwan International Fastener Show, Taiwan Boat Show and AIESEC International Congress in 2014. Last year it hosted the 2015 International Harbor Cities Conference, while the Global Harbor Cities Forum will sail into town this September.
Recognising the value of the business events sector, the Kaohsiung city government has established the Kaohsiung MICE Alliance to put up a stronger fight with rival MICE destinations. This alliance not only covers the resources of southern Taiwan (comprising the cities of Kaohsiung, Tainan, Pingtung and Penghu), but it also combines resources from the industry, government and academia. Currently, there are 10 conference ambassadors and 138 members in the alliance.
The city government has also initiated the Asian New Bay Area Redevelopment project which features four major building projects ‚Äď the existing Kaohsiung Exhibition Centre (KEC), Kaohsiung Main Public Library as well as the soon-to-be-built Maritime Cultural and Popular Music Center and Kaohsiung Port Terminal. The Asian New Bay Area will be supported by a light rail system for greater accessibility.
Kaohsiung‚Äôs stand in the global MICE scene will get a further boost with national MICE body Meet Taiwan‚Äôs recent efforts to promote second- and third-tier cities in Taiwan for business events.
Kaohsiung Meeting & Event Promotion Office now enjoys help and support from Meet Taiwan.
Meet Taiwan‚Äôs deputy executive director, Lily Su, said: ‚ÄúWe no longer rely just on Taipei (to attract international events). Kaohsiung is an ideal option as its infrastructure is taking shape. For instance, the KEC and the Kaohsiung Main Public Library are stylish spaces that enhance the venue options in the city.‚ÄĚ
The Kaohsiung Main Public Library offers a 182m2 multifunction conference room and a 1,375m2 auditorium, while the waterfront KEC has 13 meeting rooms and two main halls that have capacity for 1,424 exhibition booths.
KEC vice president, Robert Campbell, said 70 per cent of business at the centre comes from exhibitions while conferences make up 30 per cent. However, the latter has been ‚Äúexpanding quite nicely‚ÄĚ.
Campbell said: ‚ÄúSince (KEC‚Äôs) inception, occupancy has grown from 17 per cent to 22 per cent last year. Hopefully, it will exceed 30 per cent this year.‚ÄĚ
However, venues alone are not enough to make a destination attractive for events. Local industry players are hoping for more opportunities to inject creativity into event programmes.
Lion Travel‚Äôs director of exhibition & convention travel service department, Joy Tsai, said: ‚ÄúI hope to see more vibrant elements that can excite delegates. For instance, The Pier-2 Art Center could be (a unique) venue for teambuilding and themed events. Also, (planners should be able to work) with yacht clubs (to organise) cruises (on luxury yachts) or waterfront parties for small-sized, high-end groups.‚ÄĚ
Illustrating the opportunities to deliver creative events in Kaohsiung, Tsai told TTGmice that his company had recently hosted an outdoor dinner for 200 guests at the Confucius Temple in Kaohsiung. The meal was prepared by a team of private chefs who whipped up Taiwanese favourites, while live Chinese music entertained the crowd.
Ably Conference and Exhibition, project manager, Paul Chuang, added that Kaohsiung could make available opportunities for visiting event delegates to do good for the local community.
‚ÄúIn the last two years, we have seen a growing need (for such activities), beyond doing the usual sightseeing spots,‚ÄĚ Chuang said.
Citing an example, Chuang said a group of 600 delegates from a cosmetic firm in Shanghai had asked to work with a primary school in Kaohsiung to sell the students‚Äô handicraft to raise funds for charity.
Patti Tang, director with Taiwan-based PCO Willy Event Consultant, opined that Kaohsiung is often perceived as ‚Äúan industrial hub without much history‚ÄĚ, so spotlighting its arts and culture would help improve its appeal among event planners.
There is also a need for the city to expand its inventory of five-star hotels to do well among incentive event planners, according to Ambassador Hotel Kaohsiung‚Äôs director of sales, Paul Hsu.
Hsu, who hopes to court a larger number of incentive business, said more rooms in the city are needed to accommodate huge incentive groups but there are only a limited number of five-star hotels.
The waterfront Kaohsiung Exhibition Centre
opened in 2014
Pairry Chiang, Asia Concentrate Corporation‚Äôs marketing manager
Pairry Chiang, Asia Concentrate Corporation‚Äôs marketing manager, recommends three must-dos in the massive port city
Walk around Yancheng district
Take a stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy the sunset against a backdrop of restaurants. Also, check out The Pier-2 Art Center, old warehouses that have been converted into art galleries and museums.
Go on a harbour cruise
A leisurely cruise around the Kaohsiung harbour is a must. You can sail the Golden Triangle, which makes stops at the British Consulate, The Pier-2 Art Center and Hongmaogang.
Get actively involved in local culture
The Song-Jiang Jhen Battle Array, held in Kaohsiung‚Äôs Neimen district, is an annual festival that features martial arts displays, lion dances, Chinese cultural music and dance, and more. This festival was portrayed in the movie, Din Tao: Leader of the Parade.
The Pier-2 Art Center was once a warehouse
area but it has undergone a revamp and is now a
creative and cultural hub
Moving to the beat of your drum
A teambuilding session on site; the park‚Äôs iconic chimney
For example, a former sugar refinery site built circa 1902 was transformed in 2010 by the renowned Ten Drum Art Percussion Group into the Ten Drum Ciaotou Creative Park.
Aside from an iconic old chimney towering over the three-hectare park, the venue has eight converted storage areas that are open to the public. These spaces have been turned into a restaurant, theatre, museum, conference hall and souvenir shops, with more room for further expansion.
The site also features a large outdoor space that includes grassland and an open-air concrete plaza ‚Äď all of which are suitable for outdoor events.
According to business development team leader, Maggie Yang, the site can easily host 1,000 pax.
She elaborated: ‚ÄúOur 30-minute drum performance staged at the waterfall power chimney theatre can accommodate an audience of 470. We have one show each in the morning and afternoon so a large group may be split into smaller groups. While one group enjoys the thrilling performance, others may join the hour-long guided tour or drum lesson. Our space allows 200 people to practice drums simultaneously by breaking into small group of 25 to 30 pax each.
‚ÄúFor corporate meetings, we have two meeting rooms with a seating capacity of 150 to 200 and 20 to 30 people respectively. There is also a dedicated kitchen that caters to guests. Corporate buyout is possible with at least a six-month notice, while a three-month notice is necessary for ordinary corporate events.‚ÄĚ
The Ten Drum Ciaotou Creative Park is a 30-minute drive from Kaohsiung. The park can also be accessed via the nearby Ciaotou Station of the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit System.
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