A new initiative, "Thailand MICE United", was launched yesterday in a bid to restore confidence in the country's tourism sector and lure business and leisure tourists.
Sek Wannamethee, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Information, said it was implementing a confidence-rebuilding road map – especially targeting the United States, Australia and Europe.
Sek said the ministry was also providing information about improvements to the country’s management now that the ruling junta had established the National Legislative Assembly.
He added that the ministry was continuing its economic cooperation with many countries, with its permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow recently attending a European conference for foreign ministers and briefing them on the situation here.
“We have also talked with the private sector in Southeast Asia about further cooperation,” he said.
Sek said the British, German and US governments were also pushing for more economic cooperation with Thailand along with countries in this region.
According to Sek, more than 90 Thai embassies worldwide and overseas offices of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai Airways International will join forces to help restore tourist confidence and help lure business travellers back to the Kingdom through the Thailand MICE United campaign.
However, about 40 countries have maintained travel warnings against Thailand, though most are mid-level warnings advising people to avoid risky areas.
To boost tourist arrivals, insurance companies now can sell travel policies at airports.
For the mainland China and Taiwan markets, Sek said the government would next week announce a visa-fee exemption. It also planned to run adverts via international media outlets including CNN, the British Broadcasting Corp and Bloomberg.
“Thailand remains a great place for tourism and also for business,” Sek said.
Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, said the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) market dropped slightly after the coup but had recovered and revenue was expected to be higher than last year.
Nopparat said the TCEB planned to invite 250 foreign journalists to Thailand this month to inspect the situation for themselves, and along with visiting Bangkok they would also see Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.
The body is set to organise several roadshows including to Britain and Shanghai, he said.
According to TAT data, tourist arrivals are on the rise. The authority believes that Thailand is set to pick up a lot of MICE business.
THAI meanwhile is promoting the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and world’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, to attract MICE groups.
Chai Srivikorn, president of the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association, said hotels in the area offered about 4,000 rooms and more than 400,000 square metres of meeting facilities.
He said MICE contributed 15-20 per cent of hotels’ total revenue before the military coup, but that had dropped to almost zero. Shopping complexes in the area have also suffered big drops in revenue because of fewer tourists. Tourists normally generate 40 per cent of the complexes’ revenue.
“If we can encourage important meetings or global meetings in Thailand, it could help boost confidence from the international market,” he said.
He said that if the country remained politically stable, more events and meetings would come to Thailand when the Asean Economic Community was fully implemented next year.
He also urged all tourism bodies to concentrate more on “quality” tourists (those who spend a lot), safety and security, and connectivity to other areas.
His association plans to expand the connectivity of the Ratchaprasong area to Amari Watergate Bangkok and Pathum Wan within two years.
Ratchaprasong hotel operators plan to stage many monthly events from now until end of the year.
Chai called on the military to lift martial law as soon as possible so more visitors and businesses would be drawn back to Thailand.