Development master plan out to make Chiang Mai a global MICE destination
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau has joined forces with local organisations in Chiang Mai to promote the northern city as a global MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) destination.
Led by the TCEB, eight government and private organisations yesterday held a discussion and helped define the framework for creating sustainable development for the city to enhance MICE business in the long run, with an integrated approach encompassing business, environment and culture.
In attendance were officials from Chiang Mai province, the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration, the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association, the Office of Commercial Affairs Chiang Mai, the local Tourism Authority of Thailand office, Chiang Mai Creative City, and Chiang Mai University.
Thongchai Sridama, the TCEB's acting president, said the move was in line with the government policy to promote 2013 as "MICE Year".
Chiang Mai is the first provincial city to have a MICE development master plan, and its model will be applied for other destinations under the bureau's promotion, including Pattaya and Phuket at present. The next city to join the list will be Khon Kaen, he said.
The first phase of the development plan has begun this year by promoting the domestic arena.
The second phase, covering 2014 and 2015, will have a regional focus, especially in regard to the Greater mekong Subregion (GMS) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), while 2016-17 will be the period for going global as a venue for the world's mega-events.
City ready for key role
Narong Tananuwat, honorary president of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, said the city was ready to play a key role in the MICE industry because of its strong foundation in tourism and image on the international stage.
He cited the city's facilities, which will be able to serve up to 10,000 MICE participants after the Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Centre is opened in April.
"The promotion will be good for the local economy overall, especially helping fill dynamics during the low-performing period of eight months," he said, referring to the fact that until now the business community has enjoyed prosperity for only four months per year, during the cool season.
However, to achieve the ambitions for the city, participants stressed that existing problems needed be resolved.
One of the first priorities is to improve public transport to make it more convenient, not only in the city itself, but also intra-city, as well as by air with direct flights from other cities. A speedier rail service is also required, they said.
Chiang Mai city faces traffic jams during the tourism high season and daily rush hours, and some areas still face a lack of infrastructure such as high-speed Internet.
Its international airport welcomes 401 domestic flights and 76 international flights per week, and the city has more than 33,000 hotel rooms.
In 2011, the MICE industry in Chiang Mai was valued at about Bt3.35 billion, of which about Bt3.27 billion came from spending by 40,718 foreign MICE travellers and the remainder from 19,261 domestic MICE travellers.
The number of MICE events held in the province that year was 427.