From left, TCEB president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, Thailand's Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat, and TCEB chairman Dr Atchaka Sibunruang at the opening of the Thai MICE Forum 2019 in Bangkok.
BANGKOK - Following a bumper year for business arrivals, Thailand will be tripling its MICE offerings in an ambitious aim of becoming "Asia's top MICE destination".
Speaking during the Thai MICE Forum at The Athenee Hotel in Bangkok on Aug 29, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya said revenue raised via the hosting of MICE events will be distributed across the Kingdom through the development of nine new MICE cities. The cities are Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok, Rayong, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Hua Hin, and Cha-am.
Mr Chiruit added that the regions of Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Kanchanaburi are also being considered. Thailand currently promotes five cities - namely Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Khon Kaen, and Phuket - as MICE destinations. This strategy is one of five main pillars that TCEB is adopting to drive the local MICE industry.
"Diversifying and distributing MICE income to various regions across the country will boost the country's economy as a whole," Mr Chiruit told M&C Asia at Hua Hin later. "Through this, we can develop each designated MICE city in terms of infrastructure, facilities, and transportation."
TCEB president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya (centre) having lunch with a select group of international media in Hua Hin.
The plans came on the back of TCEB's record performances in the 2019 fiscal year. The numbers are eye catching: Thailand's MICE sector is seeing a 6.25% jump in overseas visitor arrivals to 967,828 for Q1 to Q3 of 2019, and a 2.23% hike in revenue to 70,438 million baht (US$2.3 billion) against the same period last year.
According to ICCA's annual ranking for 2018, Thailand has hosted 193 international conferences. It propelled the country from 25th in 2017 to 21st in 2018, leaving neighbouring Asian MICE rivals Singapore (31st) and Hong Kong (34th) firmly behind.
For the next financial year, TCEB is forecasting an 11% growth in overseas MICE visitors to 1,386,000 arrivals and a 5% jump in revenue to 105,600 million baht. It will also focus on courting global events from the 10 key industries it identified.
Thailand will host a number of prominent events in the next fiscal year, which run from October 2019 to September 2020. This includes the 86th UFI Global Congress (Nov 6-9, Bangkok) held by the global association of the exhibition industry, which is expecting 550 delegates from 50 countries.
Foreign delegates attending the Thailand MICE Forum 2019 in Bangkok.
UFI managing director and chief executive Kai Hattendorf said Thailand now has a growing global reputation as a hub for international exhibitions, and additional growth is expected in years to come.
"Thailand's MICE industry already serves as a vital case study on how strategic development, policies and investments can lead to tangible economic results beyond tourism," Mr Hattendorf said. "This was also part of why we selected Bangkok as host destination for our Global Congress."
While the UFI event can generate more than 44 million baht in terms of revenue for the economy, Mr Chiruit is more thrilled at what it may bring to Thailand's MICE industry in future.
"The world will soon learn about Thailand's readiness and capabilities to host global events, and it will enhance our image as a world-class exhibition centre," he said.
TCEB'S 5 MAIN PILLARS TO DRIVE MICE INDUSTRY
• Creating and distributing income to other parts of the Kingdom
• Enhancing the image of Thai MICE industry and establishing TCEB as the leader in driving the MICE industry
• Encouraging innovative development and competitiveness
• Aligning itself to Thailand 4.0, the country's new economic model
• Adopting fair and transparent administration
TCEB'S 12 KEY INDUSTRIES
• Medical and Wellness Tourism
• Agricultural & Biotechnology
• Smart Electronics
• Future Automotive
• Food for Future
• Aviation & Logistics
• Biofuels & Biochemicals
• Medical Hub
• Defence Technology
• Educational Technology