Thailand expands MICE tourism venues to 880, prepares for industry recovery
By Valaiporn Chalermlapvoraboon
BANGKOK, NNA - Global tourism hub Thailand aims to open its borders wider to travelers as well as MICE participants as it prepares for their return in much bigger numbers next year.
A key component of its tourism revenue is MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) which saw large groups of corporate and industry participants congregating for meetings and seminars in key Thai destinations like Bangkok for many years.
Last week, 169 hotels, 10 exhibition venues and 15 special event locations throughout Thailand joined the list of places officially recognized as having the facilities and standards to meet international MICE requirements.
The Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), which issued MICE certifications to these places, said they would ensure high levels of service, including health and safety standards.
The bureau plans to assess another 155 venues in 2022, and hopefully, they will get its stamp of approval too as the country puts in major efforts to revive the MICE industry, which has been severely hit by the pandemic.
In pre-pandemic 2019 alone, the industry was estimated to have made 550.20 billion baht ($16.9 billion), accounting for 3.27 percent of the country’s GDP. This supported the employment of 321,918 people in the sector, according to TCEB.
In 2020, however, MICE income plunged to 61.31 billion baht ($1.89 billion).
For the rest of 2021, TCEB aims to push its revenue target to 64 billion baht and attract 10.4 million MICE visitors to the country, said Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayutthaya, president of TCEB.
The latest batch of certified MICE venues are mostly located in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chonburi, and Prachuab Kirikhan. They bring the total number of TCEB-approved venues to a total of 880 or 809 hotels, 25 exhibition venues, and 46 special event locations.
Last week also saw 25 hotels and three exhibition venues obtaining the Asean MICE Venue Standards (AMVS) certification which cater to the varied requirements of Southeast Asian countries.
Chiruit said, "TCEB is always committed to supporting venue operators to reach a high standard of operations through the TMVS. This is even more important considering the hardship caused by the pandemic and the customer's requirements for service and safety excellence. We are delighted to welcome 194 venues to the TMVS line-up this year. The investments they have made to gain certification will pay off as the world reopens for travel and business events."
TCEB has been instrumental in developing Thailand's MICE industry as a competitive and viable segment in tourism over the last two decades. The kingdom has become a successful MICE leader, not just in the region but also in the world.
Launched in 2014, Thailand’s MICE certification was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, said TCEB. It provided the framework of standards to be adopted and improved upon according to industry needs and trends.
TCEB is looking at introducing new standards to enhance the scope. It is also working with special event venues to obtain the Asean certification to increase business opportunities.
As Thailand has been coping with an alarming rise of COVID-19 infections for several months, exhibitions, conventions and meetings have been limited and come to a halt when lockdowns were necessary.
Adjusting to the situation, TCEB has been supporting events that are held online or under a hybrid model under the MICE Winnovation project to encourage entrepreneurs to use innovation and technology to drive their business.
The new events also gave opportunities to showcase the capabilities and flexibilities of Thailand’s evolving MICE industry among a bigger target audience worldwide.
The country has started opening its doors cautiously to low tens of thousands of fully vaccinated international tourists, first with Phuket island under a trial in July.
It has extended the scheme to the islands of Krabi, Phang-Nga and Surat Thani, which have received about 3,000 tourists since mid-August.