Thailand’s MICE ambitions

The MICE business is becoming the core driving force of Thailand’s tourism development

When speaking of the prime choice for Chinese tourists traveling abroad, Thailand definitely comes top. Thanks to its convenient transportation, well-developed tourist industry, high-quality service and competitive prices, Thailand is luring China tourists and adding more fuel to national tourism development. As we know, the tourist industry is Thailand’s biggest financial resource and is highly-valued throughout the whole country. More than that, this tourism giant of Southeast Asia has attracted a huge amount of foreign investment thanks to its liberal and export-oriented economic policies and numerous preferential measures, especially for investors from China. Situated in the heart of the ASEAN Economic Community, Thailand enjoys unparalleled commercial advantages in terms of its MICE industry.

To achieve a new peak in terms of its MICE industry on the basis of tourism success, Thailand has formulated a slew of new development strategies. Established by Royal Decree in 2002, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is a public organization tasked with promoting and developing business events in Thailand. Since 2004, TCEB has worked toward establishing Thailand as Asia’s premier business events destination, by providing flexible, service-oriented support to meeting-goers, incentives winners, convention attendees and exhibition participants. For the past few years, large numbers of Chinese business travelers have come to Thailand for MICE purposes. Therefore, TCEB recognizes China as a major market and has launched a series of promotion campaigns to target Chinese MICE travelers.


Sharp upturn

In September this year, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau had a press conference called Thailand CONNECT in the Beijing International Convention Center, introducing the distinctive MICE advantages that Thailand boasts, elevating Thailand’s MICE awareness and reputation in the Chinese MICE market and displaying the ambition to make Thailand a top-notch destination for global MICE events.

According to official data presented by TCEB, Thailand had a remarkable year in 2013. More than 1.01 million foreign MICE travelers came to Thailand with China the largest source with a total number of128,437 MICE travelers, comprised of 50,979 incentive travelers, 33,534 meeting attendees, 27,473 convention attendees and 16,461 exhibition attendees. Year-on-year, the number was up 13%. RMB2.24 billion revenue was generated via Chinese MICE groups.

Noting the encouraging achievement, Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, President of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau indicated that the result is all thanks to Thailand’s world-class convention and exhibition venues, multiple choices of hotels and warm and friendly services. Moreover, Chinese travelers enjoy free visa fees for a maximum three-month stay in Thailand. And with further collaboration being generated between the Chinese and Thai MICE industries, Thailand continues to see a sharp increase in terms of Chinese MICE Travelers, especially the incentive element. From October 2013 to June 2014, China was still the largest MICE source for Thailand and the number of 97,267 Chinese MICE travelers saw an annual growth of 7.87%.


Incentive policy

From “Believe in Thailand” in 2010 to “Thailand CONNECT” in 2014, the change of slogans shows the efforts that Thailand has made to explore the right positioning strategy for its MICE market. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Khon Kaen are chosen to be the five major MICE destinations by TCEB.

These five major MICE destinations are not only traditional tourist cities, but also have rich MICE resources. For example, the IMPACT Arena Exhibition and Convention Center in Bangkok is one of the largest MICE venues in Asia and its 140,000 square-meter total area can accommodatea maximum of 12,000 people and 3,500 booths. Moreover, being dubbed the “Land of Smiles”, Thailand boasts many other intangible MICE resources such as its warm and friendly supporting services.

According to TCEB, to recognize the support of Chinese MICE consumers, reward policies are offered to Chinese MICE groups depending on the total number of MICE delegates and room nights. Financial subsidies are provided by the government to ensure the continued growth in convention and exhibition numbers. In order to attract more attendees, complimentary accommodation is provided as well. Having MICE events in the five major cities, MICE groups can also have an opportunity to be escorted by police from the airport to hotel and even have the mayor give a speech.


Further collaboration

After establishing official partnerships with Korea and Australia, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureauthis year signed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing International Studies University, in order to build more solid MICE communication. This is one of the moves Thailand has made in order to seek for deeper and wider development within China’s MICE market.

In addition, the key objectives (the ‘Four E’s’) of the MICE Capabilities Development Department of TCEB are succinctly expressed asEXTEND (Knowledge to new generations who can be future leaders), ELEVATE (Capabilities through knowledge, content sharing, networking, promotion and marketing activities), EXPAND (Support for domestic and international trade alliances) and ENHANCE (Service and operational quality to international standards). It primarily targets professional event organizers, venues, contractors, logistics companies, government agencies and newly created MICE cities, showing them how to improve their marketing skills and raise the quality of their services to internationally recognized standards. Using specifically designed educational courses, the department will recruit a new generation of university students, graduates, newcomers and new service providers to the MICE workforce by offering opportunities to become an essential part of a rapidly growing event industry.