Thailand eyes China to grow MICE trade
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.