Despite becoming one of Asia’s hottest picks for meetings and incentives, Vietnam lacked a modern world-class purpose-built conference centre until 2006.
The opening of the National Convention Centre (NCC) in the capital Hanoi that year was timed to coincide with a major international event, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, a true baptism of fire.
The summit climaxed in November 2006 with a high-level meeting of government leaders from the 21-strong APEC community, including leaders of the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam among others.
Plans for the centre were drawn up in 2002 and the project cost an estimated US$275 million. In total, the centre has 64,000sqm of space and sits within 64 hectares of land in the Tu Liem district.
This makes the NCC Vietnam’s largest meeting facility, comprising a conference hall which seats up to 3,800 people and 30 meeting rooms of various sizes.
Aside from large-scale meetings, conferences and conventions the multi-functional centre is also equipped to handle exhibitions and trade fairs as well as smaller meetings and corporate events.
The main conference hall sits 3,500 and has a configurable stage to accommodate all kinds of business and governmental events.
It has a backdrop of 15 simultaneous translation rooms capable of supporting even the most demanding conferences at an international level.
Together with this huge infrastructure, each delegate seat is equipped with its own collapsible table and individual microphone, ensuring that no participants miss out during discussions. To cater to smaller events, the NCC has seven smaller meeting halls to hold gatherings of around 400 to 700 people each, with another 30 meeting rooms each capable of holding 100 participants.
The centre also has a 1,800- seat banquet room for buffets and numerous open spaces to cater to the demands of large-scale buffet luncheons and dinners.
The complex includes a 4,000sqm media centre and four car parks with combined capacity for nearly 1,000 vehicles.
Delegates can also take time out in the complex’s restaurants and bars or pick up mementoes in the souvenir shops.
Alternatively, delegates can take a break and enjoy the outside surroundings. There is a nine hectare lakeside park nearby.
The NCC Hanoi complex is surrounded by this park landscape, which integrates themes and symbols drawn from Vietnamese culture and traditions.
To the south of the NCC is Fountain Square, a multifunctional, urban area intended for festivities and public occasions. To the east and west, the square is flanked by a sea of flags and two tranquil pools
The success of the APEC summit gave an enormous boost to Vietnam’s self-confidence in hosting major events and its international profile was likewise given a substantial lift.
In fact, one of Hanoi’s most pressing problems is finding hotel space to cater for the increased demand.
One of the high points for next year will be the ASEAN Tourism Forum in January, where the opening and closing events will be staged at the NCC.