The Nation



Unrest doesn't change meeting-sector outlook: trade group

Despite the political unrest, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau believes its 2014 business plan needs no adjustment.

"We acknowledge the current situation both in the political and economic contexts. On behalf of the TCEB, we will continue our plan no matter what happens next year," president Nopparat Maythaveekulchai said last week.

Among the key segments in MICE - meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions - Thailand has succeeded in lining up major international conventions or conferences and exhibitions for the next three to five years.

"Corporate meetings and incentives from the overseas market appear to be more sensitive to political uncertainty in the short term than conferences or exhibitions," he said.

To cope with the volatile markets of meetings and incentive travellers from overseas, the TCEB plans to boost and strengthen the domestic market by introducing MICE Marts next year in the MICE Cities of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya and Khon Kaen.

Puripan Bunnag, director for the domestic MICE department, said the TCEB wants to create MICE Marts as a key platform for local corporate meeting venue operators and corporate travel agents.

"The business-to-business platform will be among the top priorities under domestic MICE, or 'D-MICE', for next year in line with the promotion of MICE Cities. This will also help boost the local economy through business travel," he said.

As part of the MICE Mart strategy, the TCEB will work with private associations like the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association and the Thai Exhibition Association.

Of its Bt800-million budget from the government, the TCEB will spend about Bt30 million on a series of promotional campaigns and activities to boost the domestic MICE business.

Puripan said his team was planning to seek more funds for domestic MICE activities next year.

The team would focus on feasibility studies for new MICE destinations on top of the current MICE Cities.

"We are eyeing second-tier cities like Ubon Ratchatani, Chiang Rai, Hua Hin, Samui and Phitsanulok. Those destinations should be developed as 'Unique MICE' destinations," he said.

The bureau is not revising its growth forecasts for next year - MICE travellers are expected to rise by about 5 per cent to 987,000 and revenue by 10 per cent to Bt96.9 billion.

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