An ASEAN agreement to harmonise the region's tourism workforce has been expanded to cover MICE and event professionals.
The expanded coverage was finalised after the Thai cabinet approved an amendment to the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement of Tourism Professionals (ASEAN MRA-TP).
The ASEAN MRA-TP committed member states to implement action plans that will lead to the mutual recognition of tourism qualifications across ASEAN. At the time of signing in 2012, ASEAN MRA-TP only covered workers in travel and hotel services.
Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, President, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), said: "The expanded agreement aims to boost the employment opportunities for qualified MICE professionals, enhance and harmonise the quality of MICE education, and to grow the region's MICE workforce... At the 23rd Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers in Brunei on 15 January, 2020, ASEAN Tourism Ministers approved the protocol to amend the ASEAN MRA-TP on an ad referendum basis."
The signing of the protocol by individual countries was delayed from its original timeframe set in 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdowns in member countries and the delayed delivery of the agreement document.
To date, the ad referendum has been signed by seven countries: Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei.
Thailand and Indonesia have been tasked with the development of the competency standards for MICE – Thailand in events and incentive travel, and Indonesia, in conventions and exhibitions. This will take place over the next three years.
Thai agencies involved in the implementation of the agreement are the Department of Tourism, which will act as the chief liaison, and TCEB, which will oversee the training of event professionals.
The Department of Tourism will nominate TCEB to become a member of National Tourism Professionals Board (NTPB) so that the certification of tourism professionals can include both MICE and event professionals in the future.
"A vital economic driver for many countries, MICE has a bright future in ASEAN. TCEB believes that the liberalisation of trade and services and the improved mobility of qualified MICE professionals will benefit the region's event organisations and the industry as a whole. To enable a MICE professional to find successful employment throughout the region, we must start with a common standard and mutual recognition of qualifications," the bureau's president said.