PHUKET CONVENTION CENTRE
MP revives idea of MICE hub
Phuket has urged the government again to consider construction of a convention centre to strengthen the island as a world-class tourism destination offering integrated services both for leisure and business purposes, especially MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions).The initiative would help the government achieve its ambition of Bt2 trillion in tourism revenue in 2015, said Anchalee Tephabutra, a Democrat MP who chairs a tourism subcommittee in the House of Representatives.
Previously, the province had planned to construct a convention centre with capacity for more than 4,000 people on 150 rai (24 hectares) in Mai Khao subdistrict of Thalang district, but the plan was suspended in the face of strong opposition from local people with environmental concerns. Some believed politics was involved in |the centre's development. The Southern region is a political stronghold of the Democrat Party, including Phuket.
If the plan had gone ahead, the construction was to have been completed this year.
Anchalee, an MP from Phuket, said that if her province had a large convention centre, it would significantly boost not only the local economy, but also those of neighbouring provinces, especially Phang Nga and Krabi.
Currently, Phuket is the country's second-biggest tourism market behind Bangkok. Annually, its tourism revenue is more than Bt180 billion, while Bangkok's is Bt430 billion. A spillover financial benefit has fallen to Krabi, with Bt31 billion annually, and Khao Lak in Phang Nga, at Bt5 billion.
She said Phuket was perfectly placed to become a MICE hub in |the South. It not only has pre-|mium accommodation and easy air access, but has good connections with neighbouring provinces that are rich in natural beauty, so conventioneers can enjoy recreational activities after completing their business.
"Phuket is internationally known. It has become a world-class tourism brand," she said, noting that a convention centre would make it even easier for the island to bid for major global events.
The government is putting a lot of effort into promoting 2013 as the MICE year. Recently, Chiang Mai was promoted as a global MICE destination with a clear master plan until 2017. This April, the Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Centre will be opened officially with capacity for 10,000 people.
Chiang Mai is considered a model MICE city for other provincial cities such as Phuket, Pattaya and Khon Kaen to follow, under promotion of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (Public Organisation).
However, Anchalee said there was no need for Phuket to follow in Chiang Mai's footsteps. In fact, the two cities have different backgrounds and business foundations, and attract different groups of foreign tourists.