It’s the duty of any government to find ways of increasing revenue for the country as well as creating jobs and boosting development. The MICE sector boosts all of these areas, which is why it benefits from a strong government support in Thailand, with great success. Over the last few years, under the auspices of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, or TCEB, the kingdom’s MICE industry has grown massively and Thailand is now seen as Asia’s MICE hub.
HQ Asia Pacific was lucky enough to catch up with TCEB President Nopparat Maythaveekulchaito talk about the current state of the MICE industry in Thailand and what he thinks the future might hold.
Well one thing is for certain, things are currently going very well. “First half of the fiscal yearfrom October 2015 – March 2016, Thailand has attracted a total of 493,384 MICE travellers, which means there has been a steady growth of 3.63% compared to the same period last year. These visits have generated a total revenue of 39,671 million baht,” Mr. Nopparat told us.
The main markets are the growing Asian economies, though some Western markets remain strong. The Top 10 nations of MICE travellers coming to Thailand are China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, US, Korea Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, and France.By the end of fiscal year 2016, TCEB forecasts that the country will have welcomed 1.06 million MICE travellers, which marks a 5% growth, generating more than 92 billion baht in revenue.
“This is extremely satisfying considering that the global economy is still sluggish. We can see steady growth in the MICE sector. It comes down to ongoing government support for both the country’s tourism and business travel sectors which has helped boost the country's MICE industry, keeping us growing considerably.”said Mr. Nopparat.
Five dynamic MICE cities
One thing that TCEB has done successfully to spread the MICE business around is to promote five dynamic MICE cities in Thailand. These include Bangkok, of course, but also Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen all of which have great potential. These cities will be the hubs of Thailand’s MICE sector. Meanwhile, TCEB plans to back them with creative new initiatives to attract meetings and enhance Thailand’s reputation as a leading MICE hub, recognisedglobally for quality.
Mr. Maythaveekulchaicontinued: “TCEB’s 2016 initiative is the ‘Thailand CONNECT...Our Heart Your World’ brand communications campaign which aims to capture the essence of what Thailand and MICE can offer as a preferred global business events destination. The campaign showcases Thailand’s advantages in providing hospitality and service which translate into tangible opportunities for business travelers.”
The “Thailand CONNECT...Our Heart, Your World" highlights three key pillars of the Thai MICE industry:
1) The Destinations of Thailand; Thailand is famous for being home to the world’s most beautiful beaches and islands, but there are also lush hills and parks to trek in, and historic cities where you can explore the kingdom’s unique culture. And whatever time of year people come, there are colourful festivals and events to enjoy up and down the land.
2) Business in Thailand: Being an emerging global hub, at the heart of Asia, and the on the pulse of the AEC, Thailand can help business travellers seize new opportunities
3) People of Thailand: The hospitality of Thai people is a great asset to develop the MICE industry and, when combined with world-leading industry standards and partnerships, it helps create qualified people who can support MICE businesses.
“But that’s not all”,Mr Maythaveekulchaicontinues. “We’re looking to expand to other venues. There are so many untapped destinations in Thailand which have great potential to be the MICE cities of the future. That will be our next step of development – to expand MICE business to as many provinces as possible.”
Last year in 2015, TCEB organised a famtrip that took place in Khao Yai, a lush national park area a few hours north of Bangkok. The successful event helped enhance Khao Yai’s reputation as a MICE destination. This year, TCEB arranged another trip that explored the Chiang Rai province in the north. Around 30 members of the international media joined to see first-hand what Chiang Rai can offer to MICE delegates. What they found was:
TCEB also recognisesthe demand for sustainability when it comes to the MICE industry. In this regard, TCEB is implementing a 5-year MICE Sustainability Master Plan (2015-2019) to turn Thailand into the world's leading Sustainable Destination for MICE. It has joined forces with the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), Thai Hotels Association (THA), Thai Exhibition Association (TEA) to initiate a ‘Farm to Functions’ project to encourage Thai MICE operators to purchase organic agriculture products directly from farmers.
“We can honestly say that “Farm to Functions” is the first project in the world that sees a government initiative work hand-in-hand with private sector MICE operators to support the economy of local communities and enhance multi-level sustainability. The initiative will increase competitiveness and promote a good image of the Thai MICE sector internationally making Thailand the preferred MICE choice for anyone seeking a sustainable destination.”Mr Nopparat said.
The future looks bright for MICE in Thailand. With the help of TCEB, new markets and venues are being developed and there’s always an eye to how things can improve and grow. So in the future, don’t be surprised to hear people say “Let’s meet in Thailand”.
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