May 30, 2013 00:00
By BAMRUNG AMNATCHAROENRIT
The new president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has pledged to move ahead the country's MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) industry to compete with Singapore and Hong Kong.
Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, who took office on May 16, also dismissed controversy over Thailand’s bid to host the World Expo 2020, insisting it is on track.
He said yesterday that Thailand was still one of the candidates for the fair and that his agency had met the criteria defined by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). On June 11 and 12 in France, the final presentations will be held by candidates before the host is announced in November.
At the end of January, nine delegates from the BIE’s Enquiry Mission visited Ayutthaya, the proposed venue for the event, to check its readiness.
Delegates from the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs will attend the presentation next month, and the ministry will be responsible for lobbying the 161 member countries of the BIE to vote for Thailand. Whatever the result will be, Nopparat said his agency had done its best.
His enthusiasm is in notable contrast to other opinions. It is believed the current government was considering abandoning the bid over perceived political benefits and exploitation and also the massive budget needed to construct infrastructure for the expo.
Nopparat worked with TOT for more than 10 years, and his last position before he left was executive vice president. He is the fourth president of the TCEB and replaced Akkapol Sorasuchart, who resigned in February last year. During the interim, Thongchai Sridama was acting president.
Nopparat met with the media for the first time yesterday and committed himself to promoting Thailand’s MICE industry both regionally and domestically. Despite such barriers as a strengthening baht and economic uncertainties in the United States and Europe, he believes Thailand is still one of the top MICE destinations in Asia.
Singapore and Hong Kong are rivals for this market. However, Thailand’s competitive edge over them is its friendly culture and numerous tourist attractions so MICE travellers can enjoy their leisure time after finishing their tasks, he said.
However, to minimise risks, he said the agency would encourage the local MICE industry to strengthen its revenues.
During his four-year term, he intends to increase the number of MICE travellers and revenue at the same time. To secure growth in the long term, he said the TCEB would work more closely with the private and public sectors to share ideas and create plans for marketing, public relations, and progress of the industry.
Also, the agency will work even harder to lure big international events to the country. Databases and distribution of information will be improved.
Thailand’s MICE industry this year is expected to generate Bt88 billion, while the number of MICE travellers will reach 940,000.