Bitec owner plans foremost MICE centre in the region
July 04, 2014 00:00 By Suchat Sritama
Bhiraj Buri Group, owner of Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Bitec) in Bang Na, is embarking on a Bt6-billion expansion in the capital aimed at raising its profile among international venues.
The new development of a convention centre and office tower in eastern Bangkok will become a top destination for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) businesses in the region, chief executive officer Prasarn Buri said yesterday.
Of the Bt6-billion budget, Bt3 billion will go to an exhibition, convention and concert hall, which will become one of the largest in the country and also the highest with a 25-metre ceiling, while Bt3 billion will go to a 29-storey tower combining commercial and office space.
The new convention and tower project will complement Bitec. It is now under construction and is expected to be completed in 2016.
The group has gained expertise in developing rental office buildings in Bangkok for more than 30 years, including UBC Tower and Bhiraj Tower at EmQuartier – the mixed-use development scheduled to be completed late this year.
Once the convention and tower project is completed, Bitec will be able to compete with many other modern mixed-use towers in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Office rental rates in Bangkok average Bt900 per square metre per month, which remains lower than Singapore’s Bt3,000 and Jakarta’s Bt2,100.
Panittha Buri, managing director of Bitec, said total space would increase to 70,000 square metres in 2016 from 38,000sqm this year, allowing the group to attract more local and international events, especially concerts and consumer fairs, so business should continue to grow consistently at 10-15 per cent. “The group posted Bt600 million revenue last year. We hope to see 20-per-cent growth this year and 10-15 per cent in the future. The political problem does not affect our business much,” she said.
About 30 per cent of events and trade shows are from overseas. The group is now promoting Bitec as a venue for specialised industries, so it can get more specific trade events from abroad.
Last year, Bitec ran an occupancy rate of 70 per cent, up 27 percentage points from 2012. Last year showed a better result even than some venues in Germany. The group spent Bt920 million on renovation work at Bitec, including a pedestrian bridge linking the centre and the Skytrain station. The group is also planning more projects at its land in the same area.