THE Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is staging the third edition of the Thailand Incentive & Meeting Exchange 2018 (TIME) with a focus on the long-haul markets of North America, Europe and Oceania.
Based on what it calls a MICE ecosystem strategy – for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions - TCEB is showcasing new concepts to attract qualified high-level buyers.
Nichapa Yoswee, TCEB’s vice president of business, said that although the short-haul market – covering countries such as China, India and Singapore - remains the key for the MI (meetings and incentives) sector with strong growth, the strong returns from long-haul buyers are expected to drive growth in the industry. The long-haul market is on the rise because business travellers, especially in Europe, are looking for the longer destinations outside the European region.
MI is the biggest contributor for the country’s MICE industry, representing about 50 per cent of the total revenue. In the first half of the 2018 fiscal year (October 2017-March 2018), Thailand welcomed 150,849 meeting travellers worldwide, up 11.8 per cent from the same period last year. The number of incentive travellers rose by 21.63 per cent to 176,005. Among them were 101,514 MICE travellers from the long-haul markets, generating Bt7.94 billion in revenue.
After success in the first and second editions that highlighted the Chinese and Indian markets, respectively, this year TIME is focusing on the long-haul markets with new event concepts and promotional campaigns.
TIME is described as an annual knowledge platform to all stakeholders related to the meetings and incentives industry. It comprises three key activities: Knowledge Exchange, to help participants learn about the target markets; Business Exchange, to build networking; and Experience Exchange, to create hand-on experience for the buyers through a familiarisation trip.
The Knowledge Exchange was organised yesterday under a concept of “Element of Thailand” offering the participants the opportunity to gain market insights via main conference and three breakout sessions for each market. Some of keynote speakers included Phillip Eldsvold, president-elect, SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence) and Megg Withinton, managing partner of Intellective Group, North America.
Business Exchange was redesigned from the table-top session to be Social Club allowing 30 buyers from long-haul markets to meet Thai suppliers in four different settings that demonstrated Thailand’s meeting destinations – Beach, Nature, Culture, and City.
While Experience Exchange is being organised under the theme “Global Exchange for Change” until tomorrow in Koh Samui, a preferred choice for small and medium-sized meeting groups.
Nichapa said that through the MICE ecosystem platform, the TCEB is reinforcing the MI industry as an enabler of growth in target industry in line with the Thailand 4.0 policy - including the automotive, IT, insurance, consumer products, and direct-selling industries. The MICE ecosystem would enable all parties concerned to integrate efforts into the same direction. In addition to MICE Cities (Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Khon Kaen), it is aimed at increasing the number of meetings in the second-tier MICE destinations such as in the Eastern Economic Corridor (Chon Buri, Chachoengsao and Rayong), Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Samui Island in Surat Thani.
In the 2018 fiscal year, Thailand is expected to welcome 1,327,000 business travellers generating the total revenue of Bt124 billion. The number of business travellers coming from MI sector is estimated to grow by 7 per cent to 569,000. While the ranks of long-haul travellers will grow by 5 per cent compared to 184,701 travellers in 2017 fiscal year.
The top 10 long-haul source market in 2017 were America, Australia, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Belgium.