Thai­land eyes China to grow MICE trade

China Daily - - DESTINATION - By ZHANG ZEFENG zhangze­feng@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Thai­land Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Bu­reau (TCEB) re­cently launched a cam­paign to pro­mote three ma­jor cities — Pat­taya, Hua Hin and Bangkok — as its lat­est des­ti­na­tions for MICE (meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­enc­ing and ex­hi­bi­tions) events in a bid to at­tract more trade from China.

The mar­ket­ing cam­paign, en­ti­tled “Thai­land Con­nect Your Vi­brant Jour­ney to Busi­ness Suc­cess,” was launched in Bangkok on Sept 27 with the aim of at­tract­ing more Chi­nese busi­ness vis­i­tors and strength­en­ing the coun­try’s po­si­tion as the lead­ing MICE des­ti­na­tion in the re­gion.

With 127,390 MICE vis­i­tors in 2016, China was ranked as the largest mar­ket for Thai­land’s in­ter­na­tional MICE in­dus­try ahead of In­dia, Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia and Ja­pan.

Bi­lat­eral trade, hos­pi­tal­ity, and a range of ideal lo­ca­tions — cou­pled with close ties be­tween the two coun­tries — helped to con­trib­ute to this phe­nom­e­non, says Su­pawan Teer­arat, vice-pres­i­dent of the TCEB’s strate­gic and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

This year’s new MICE land­scape will be un­der­pinned by the “Thai­land 4.0” pol­icy, a gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive that will in­clude ex­ten­sive in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment and im­proved con­nec­tiv­ity to cre­ate an Eastern Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (EEC) in prov­inces along the coun­try’s eastern seaboard.

Teer­arat says the op­er­a­tional strat­egy the TCEB de­vel­ops is in line with the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment scheme. The EEC project is ex­pected to at­tract $43 bil­lion in­vest­ment in the next five years.

“The ob­jec­tive is to pro­mote the MICE in­dus­try into a key mech­a­nism for pro­pel­ling the na­tional econ­omy, guided by the gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion of sta­bil­ity, pros­per­ity, and sus­tain­abil­ity,” she says.

Ac­cord­ing to Cho­la­chit Vo­rawangso Vi­rakul, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Eastern Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor Of­fice of Thai­land, in­vest­ment in ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture within the EEC will help pro­mote growth in the in­dus­trial sec­tor, and aid the es­tab­lish­ment of eco-cities un­der the “smart city” model that will gen­er­ate ben­e­fits for the MICE in­dus­try in the fu­ture.

Un­like reg­u­lar tourist cities, which at­tract trav­el­ers with their rich cul­ture or unique scenery, qual­i­fied MICE des­ti­na­tions are usu­ally eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, boast good trans­port links and have well-de­vel­oped in­fra­struc­ture to ac­com­mo­date events and ac­tiv­i­ties.

To en­hance Thai­land’s trio of MICE des­ti­na­tions and fur­ther boost the re­gion’s econ­omy, the first ferry route across the Gulf of Thai­land con­nect­ing Pat­taya with Hua Hin has been in­tro­duced, short­en­ing the trip be­tween two coastal cities to two hours. This will help con­nect Pat­taya, Hua Hin and Bangkok to form a “tri­an­gu­lar” des­ti­na­tion for MICE trav­el­ers.

As one of Thai­land’s most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for Chi­nese trav­el­ers, Pat­taya pos­sesses some of Thai­land’s fa­vorite sea­side re­sorts and at­trac­tions. The city is also home to sev­eral world-class ho­tels and a con­ven­tion fa­cil­ity.

New fa­cil­i­ties in­clude the Nong­nooch In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, the Re­nais­sance Pat­taya Re­sort and Spa and KANN Show — a live cine­matic ex­pe­ri­ence in­spired by Thai lit­er­a­ture.

Hua Hin has been a royal her­itage city since the 1920s when the Thai royal fam­ily es­tab­lished sum­mer res­i­dences in the area.

The city of­fers lux­ury ho­tel chains such as the Hua Hin Mar­riott Re­sort and Spa Ho­tel and the Radis­son Blu Re­sort Hua Hin Ho­tel, as well as world-class golf­ing re­sorts and vi­brant night mar­kets.

It only takes two and a half hours to drive from the city to Bangkok and two hours to get to Pat­taya by ferry. A high-speed train route be­tween Hua Hin and Bangkok is planned for the fu­ture.

Known for some of Asia’s best food, world-class shop­ping, its vi­brant cul­ture and friendly lo­cals, Bangkok was one of the world’s most vis­ited cities last year.

The Thai cap­i­tal is also ex­pand­ing its ur­ban rail tran­sit net­work and im­prov­ing its mass tran­sit sys­tem in or­der to of­fer busi­ness vis­i­tors ef­fi­cient trans­porta­tion and to fur­ther strengthen the coun­try as a MICE hub.

“Com­bin­ing the three des­ti­na­tions, we in­tro­duce as­pects of the Thai jour­ney through lux­ury, cul­tural, culi­nary, and CSR ex­pe­ri­ences to show that Thai­land can trans­form or­di­nary busi­ness events into a mem­o­rable and en­dear­ing suc­cesses,” says Teer­arat.

Be­tween 2011-2015, the Global As­so­ci­a­tion of the Ex­hi­bi­tion In­dus­try (UFI) ranked Thai­land as the top among ASEAN na­tions in terms of the num­ber of ex­hi­bi­tions sold among ASEAN coun­tries.

In re­cent years, the TCEB has been de­vel­op­ing the key pil­lars of the MICE in­dus­try by in­tro­duc­ing new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and a range of di­verse des­ti­na­tions. The MICE busi­ness has been an im­por­tant eco­nomic driver for the coun­try.

In 2016 fis­cal year (Oct 2015 — Sept 2016), a to­tal of 7,692 MICE events were held in Thai­land. The av­er­age length of stay for vis­i­tors was 5.22 days with the ex­pen­di­ture of 80,831.63 baht ($2,419) per per­son on each trip. As a re­sult, the in­dus­try wel­comed 1,273,465 in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors and gen­er­ated rev­enue of 102,936 bil­lion baht dur­ing that pe­riod.

The Thai­land Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Bu­reau ex­pects to wel­come 1,192,000 in­ter­na­tional MICE vis­i­tors, and gen­er­ate rev­enue of 112 bil­lion baht for the coun­try, by the end of 2018.

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