Kingdom pleads case for hosting World Expo 2020
Thailand yesterday argued its case for hosting the World Expo 2020, amid a controversy over the country's possible disqualification as a candidate for failure to meet certain key criteria.On Tuesday, nine delegates of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Enquiry Mission met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and some sources said her pitch failed to impress them. However, Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, director for domestic MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), argued that the outcome of the meeting was positive.
The BIE Enquiry Mission's official visit to Thailand began on Monday and ends tomorrow.
Some media have reported that the chance of Thailand hosting the event is fragile. One criterion the country is reportedly weak on is a commitment to provide free support to underdeveloped nations exhibiting at the expo. Also, there may be a lack of cohesive effort from state agencies on streamlining visa regulations and custom duties.
Yesterday, the TCEB invited the media to visit Ayutthaya, the proposed venue for the expo. Thongchai Sridama, the bureau's acting president, did not appear at the event, claiming illness. On the same day, BIE Enquiry Mission members announced cancellation of their plan to meet with the media today, citing their tight schedule.
Today, they will meet with Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. The Kingdom's Expo 2020 bid was his brainchild while he was prime minister. It is one of the BIE's criteria that all major parties support the event.
During the visit, the delegates will also talk with private-sector representatives, civil-society groups and other concerned stakeholders.
They will consider 14 issues identified in Thailand's Bidding Dossier. One of the key items is the government's mechanism for event management and community support. Chiruit is confident that Thailand is qualified on all of the issues. Also, a simple way of life is a strong point of the Kingdom under the proposed theme of "Redefine Globalisation: Balanced Life, Sustainable Living".
Thailand will compete head-on with four other candidates, Dubai, Brazil, Turkey and Russia. Turkey is considered to have a competitive advantage because it has bid for a World Expo before, and knows how to lobby the BIE members to vote for it. Brazil is also accepted internationally for its ability to organise international events like the soccer World Cup. Dubai is internationally well known. For Thailand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will play a key role in lobbying members to vote for the country.
Thailand is the first nation on the BIE delegates' inspection tour.
The government expects to spend Bt40 billion to prepare the historic city of Ayutthaya to host the expo. It projects a Bt60-billion boost to the economy from the event but, more important, it would be a platform to promote the Kingdom in the international arena.
Ayutthaya is prepared to set aside 2,400 rai (384 hectares) for the main venue, along with 2,000 rai for related uses and 800 rai for the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre. Highway improvements are under way to connect it with other cities.
Thailand will make another presentation of its bid this June. The winner will be announced in November.