Thailand reopened its borders and resumed Its ‘Test and Go’ scheme in
February, allowing quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated
The destination has also ramped up its MICE offering with regards to
financial incentives, enhanced safety measures and a focus on
sustainability, as well as investing in infrastructure, signalling its
intention to be front of mind as business and incentive travel recovers.
reintroduction of the ‘Test and Go’ scheme and high vaccination rates
are bringing back confidence and spurring more interest in Thailand
among MICE planners and business travellers,” says Chiruit Isarangkun Na
Ayuthaya, president of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau
Interest in the destination among overseas clients remains strong, according to TCEB.
The Phuket Sandbox programme, which was introduced last year, and
which allows entry from those countries not included under ‘Test and
Go’, has proven to be popular. International companies are conducting
site inspections in Phuket for potential visits later this year and the
‘Sandbox’ programme has since expanded to other popular MICE
destinations such as Krabi and Koh Samui.
“For TCEB-supported events, our MICE Lane service has now expanded
from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok and, subject
to consideration on a case-by-case basis, to Chiang Mai and Phuket
airports,” says Chiruit.
“We’ve also developed support schemes for 2022 covering all MICE
categories. For example, ‘SMILE’ (Safe Meeting Incentive Localised
Experience), supports the hygiene and safety of events, food and
beverage and meeting packages and there are top-up benefits for events
demonstrating sustainable practices.”
With the Covid-19 situation still uncertain, and in the wake of the
omicron variant, TCEB unsurprisingly expects more business in the coming
months from neighbouring countries within Asia Pacific, although it
believes other markets will soon follow. “Face-to-face meetings or
experiences in long-haul destinations are still seen as valuable and
these will be even more sought-after [in the coming months] as people
are keen to return to international travel in search of a refreshing
experience,” says Chiruit.
Stronger than ever
Roger Parnow, cluster director
of sales and marketing at Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park says
that recovery signs may not be visible until the second or third quarter
of this year, due to the recent ‘stop/start’ nature of restrictions. He
believes however that Thailand is well placed to bounce back stronger
than ever before, once seamless travel is in place.
“Thailand remains a very attractive destination for MICE as it offers
everything organisers are looking for: global flight connectivity,
convenient domestic infrastructure, state-of-the-art hotels and venues, a
vast food and beverage offering, entertainment and diversity,” he says.
“Thailand will be one of Asia’s most popular MICE destinations once
confidence in travel is restored.”
The hotel has invested in ‘open space’ MICE areas, tapping into
people’s preferences to meet outdoors, such as the 4th floor ‘Pool
House’, the ‘Garden at Queen’s Park’ on the ninth floor and the 37th
floor rooftop ‘Sky Garden’.
“These areas are fully equipped and suitable for various types of
functions, such as receptions, parties and gatherings,” says Parnow.
“We’ve implemented Marriott International’s ‘Commitment to Clean’
standards and adopted ‘New Normal’ standards to provide additional
safety and assurance for a hassle-free experience.”
Providing a safe environment
Health and safety is
also a key priority for TCEB, which rolled out its 2HY (Hygiene and
Hybrid) project last year. This aims to share guidance and best
practices with venues to ensure safe business operations.
“We will continue to build capacity for 2HY, with around 700 MICE
professionals participating in the programme in 2021,” says Chiruit.
“However, our major aim in 2022 is to incorporate this scheme into our
existing Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TMVS).” The initiative, TMVS
PLUS, ensures the availability of venues in delivering services that
meet clients’ requirements. TCEB says 2HY will become one of its venue
Tom Thrussell, VP brand, marketing & digital for Centara Resorts
says Thailand’s Covid management and safety protocols have been well
received by international organisations. “Safety is an important factor
when staging events this year. If we can maintain existing levels, we
will continue to be considered a safe and appealing destination,” he
Centara recently opened the 184-room Centara Reserve Samui, located
along Chaweng Beach and is strengthening its presence across Thailand
with the opening of the 218-room Centara Korat, which will anchor the
Central Plaza Nakhon Ratchasima shopping centre, with a projected
7,000sqm convention hall. In the third quarter of this year, the 8th
Centra by Centara property will open in Bangkok, near Khaosan Road.
A festival feeling
Last year, TCEB also announced
its ‘Festival Economy’ initiative, the creation of a dedicated festival
aimed at leveraging a city or region’s advantages, and providing a
drawcard for industry-specific business events.
The first of these, called ‘Awakening Bangkok’, was a light-themed,
tech-focused festival, which took place at Samyan from 17-26 December.
lt lit up the city’s landmarks, drawing attention to its heritage and
showing how lighting can be used as an art form. A further one was held
in the Charoen Krung area of Bangkok in January, and other ‘Awakening’
events are taking place in Bangkok’s Nana and Yaowarat areas in March,
Khon Kaen in May and Chiang Mai in November.
“Festivals will inspire feelings of pride and a sense of
preservation, as well as attracting visitors,” says Chiruit. “The
festivals we are targeting are art and culture, creative lifestyle,
mass-participation sports and entertainment.” Funding is also available
under the initiative for business events if they tie-in with the
festivals and generate a measurable social, environmental and economic
Certain festival elements could be designed to cater to MICE groups;
for example, a light-themed festival could host light art workshops, or
some of the lit-up, historic locations could be transformed into MICE
routes for groups, inviting them to explore the area. Mass participation
at sports festivals could also serve as a platform for a similar-themed
Vitanart Vathanakul, CEO of Royal Cliff Hotels Group and Pattaya
Exhibition and Convention Hall says they are also keen to welcome back
guests, having completed refits and upgraded wi-fi systems at Royal
Cliff Beach Hotel.
“We are working on becoming a wellness destination, and we have been
investing in providing a safe meeting experience,” he says. “We have
also partnered with several quality attractions in Pattaya, enabling
groups to visit islands via luxury yachts, play a round of golf or go on
a cultural excursion.”
Thailand’s MICE business will take some time to reach pre-pandemic
levels, but the destination is in a stronger position to welcome groups,
having invested in infrastructure last year. It also continues to
attract planners looking to organise eco-friendly and immersive
experiences for delegates.