The number of foreign business travellers to Thailand has dropped slightly in the wake of last month's military coup but the convention bureau is confident the country will be able to achieve its target of 980,000 visitors this year.
Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), said some meetings and conferences booked before the coup and the subsequent curfew imposed in May had been postponed over security concerns. However, individual travellers had maintained their plans to come to Thailand.
He said there had been few postponements and cancellations, as foreigners feel confident in Thailand. Some new bookings have been received over past few weeks despite the chaos, so the country should not lose a huge amount of tourism revenue.
According to Thai Hotels Association data, hotels in Bangkok are suffering, with the average occupancy rate plunging from 70 per cent a year ago to 40 per cent this month – a bigger drop than in the provinces.
An executive at one of top hotels on the Chao Phraya River said the number of business guests had dropped sharply since the coup and new bookings were not coming in. Eight hotels on the banks of the river earlier launched a joint promotion to draw businesspeople but it would likely take time for it to take effect.
Last year, Thailand reached its target of 930,000 MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) visitors, which was double the number in 2012.
The TCEB is confident that the country will achieve the targets of 980,000 visitors and income of Bt96 billion set for the entire year. To ensure the safety and convenience of all business travellers to Thailand, the bureau is closely cooperating with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports to provide Tourist’s Friend Centres, 24-hour operations to offer assistance. There are two TFC branches, at each of Bangkok’s airports, and four TFC help desks at BTS Skytrain stations, namely Siam, Phaya Thai, Ekkamai and Sala Daeng.
Darren Ng, managing director of TTG Asia Media, the organiser of “IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific 2014”, said it would go ahead and host this year’s event, which is scheduled to take place at Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld from September 30 to October 2.
The TCEB will spend about Bt41 million at the event and it hopes to attract 2,000-2,600 MICE and related business operators.
“We are confident [enough] to host this double event in Bangkok,” said Ng, adding that MICE business should be back to normal in the remaining months of the year.
IT&CMA (Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings Asia) and CTW (Corporate Travel World) is a double-bill event on MICE and corporate travel.