Thailand: Preferred MICE Destination in Asia
When it comes to business meetings, conferences, and events, few locations are as ideal as Thailand. Situated at the crossroads of Asia, Thailand is a natural hub, and serves as a convenient springboard to all ASEAN countries, which together form a market containing over a half-billion people.
The meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions industry, or “MICE” industry, is thriving in Thailand, thanks in part to the nation’s fully developed infrastructure and full value-chain of MICE capabilities.
Right now, because business meetings and the business events industry are on the rise, we are enjoying average growth of 10-15% per year, which is very good. And the number keeps increasing, which means there are huge opportunities for Thailand. Therefore, in order to capture those opportunities, we have to be a growth driver.
Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB)
The Thai MICE industry is guided and directed by the work of TCEB, the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau. Within TCEB, the MICE Capabilities Department is the designated unit to strategically shape the advancement of Thailand's MICE industry.
The vision of TCEB is to make sure we are the preferred MICE destination for Asia and in order to do so we need to have a good product to support that vision.
MICE Industry Growth
The industry has grown under the charge of TCEB, with close to one million MICE visitors and total industry revenue of $3.2bn expected in 2014.
The number of MICE events held in Thailand has increased by 44% since 2007, with the country hosting almost 8,000 events in 2013 alone. This translates to over 21 events each and every day of the year.
In fact, the country has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s top MICE destinations, boosted by accolades and awards from leading industry groups and agencies.
It’s a proven fact that whenever Thailand is announced as the destination for an event, there will be more participants, there will be more supporters, there will be more people wanting to come to Thailand, even their families and spouses. That’s a plus factor for Thailand.
Infrastructure is one reason why the business events industry continues to grow in Thailand. The country hosts 6 international airports that connect to more than 190 global destinations.
Diversity of destinations is another one of Thailand’s strengths. The MICE industry has five officially designated MICE cities: Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Khon Kaen, and, of course, Bangkok, the heart of the Thai MICE industry, and a thriving, international, metropolis.
Located throughout the country, Thailand has 9 purpose-built facilities that comprise over 222,000 square meters of exhibition space, the most in the region.
But it is not just physical infrastructure that sets Thailand apart, the country also boasts a full array of capabilities spanning the entire value chain of the business events industry.
We have the capacity in terms of venues and physical things and we have the production houses, I mean the private sector organizations, to support the MICE market, including event management companies.
I think Thailand, unlike other countries, has suitability for all segments of the industry, from meeting and incentive programs, to conventions, exhibitions, and events. It’s a spoiled choice for the planners.
While Thailand is continuing to build up MICE infrastructure and capabilities, it is also positioning itself as a global leader in sustainability.
We are the second country in the world to announce the implementation of ISO 20121 which is the event sustainability management system.
In addition to ISO 20121, the country has also introduced global standards in the management of energy, food safety, and MICE security.
TCEB's Master Plan & Vision
Further advancement of the industry is set to continue with TCEB’s master plan and vision for the coming years.
The five point plan aims to open up new markets while continuing to maintain existing ones; promote the Thai MICE industry so that it stays “top of mind” throughout Asia; differentiate and add value with creative initiatives; build strong networks and alliances; and enhance TCEB’s usefulness and role in developing the industry.
Future outlook for MICE in Thailand is great and bright. Exhibitions are growing very fast.
As the prime government agency tasked with developing the MICE industry in Thailand, TCEB’s three-pronged approach is to win more business and events for the industry, promote Thailand as a MICE hub, and develop the MICE profession, its individuals, and the industry as a whole.
At the MICE Capabilities Department we are also tasked with one of the key strategies of TCEB, which is on the development portfolio, which means that we have to strategize the whole nations development plan for the meetings industry and also the business events industry.
Outlook for MICE Industry
Strategically, TCEB’s initiatives for the future are built around six pillars of development: The MICE Academy; Trade Education; Capabilities Plus; MICE Standards; MICE Sustainability in Thailand and throughout Asia; and The ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC.
One major means for promoting the MICE industry in the years to come is TCEB’s new “Thailand Connect” campaign, which will aggressively court businesses, organizations, and events from high-quality priority markets around the world.
Thailand has always been enjoying business meetings and events. I believe that in the future, with all the opening up of all frontiers, the opportunities will be increasing and the current percent of 10-15% can rise to 20% (growth). That would be the case where it would bring in a lot of money into the country because business tourism normally generates three times higher than normal tourism.
This multi-faceted approach aims to ensure that the MICE industry grows and develops, and that Thailand continues to be recognized as a global leader in professionalism, quality, and sustainability for meetings and events.