September 27, 2013 00:00 By Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit
New convention hub draws wide interest
Chiang Mai’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) business is projected to grow by at least 10 per cent next year, while the number of MICE travellers is expected to increase by least 5 per cent, thanks to the recent opening of the Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) forecasts revenue from MICE to rise by 10 per cent to Bt4.24 billion in 2013 and the number of MICE travellers to rise by 5 per cent to 72,424.
Last year saw 490 MICE events held in the province, of which 80 per cent were international. Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, president of TCEB, said yesterday that Chiang Mai has strong infrastructure and venue facilities.
The Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Centre opened on May 12 at a cost of more than Bt2.5 billion. It can serve more than 10,000 guests.
Rittipong Techapan, deputy governor, said the planned high-speed train linking with Chiang Mai would help create awareness of the city as a MICE hub, not just a tourism destination rich in northern couture and natural beauty.
The province ranked second in 2010 and 10th this year among top travel destinations in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine. Lonely Planet also listed Chiang Mai as the 10th top city in 2011 by readers’ choice.
More than 41,000 rooms are available to accommodate visitors to the city.
Its aviation gateway is the country’s third largest international airport after Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang with 401 domestic and 76 international flights.
It can serve 8 million passengers per year.
Chiang Mai is working with TCEB to promote the city as an international MICE destination over five years. Its roadmap to Chiang Mai MICE City involves three phases.
Next year, TCEB will work with the city to promote it in the regional market via the framework of the Greater Mekong Subregion and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.
Locally, training programmes in the city will be launched to produce skilled labour for the industry.
The government declared this year as the Year of MICE in Chiang Mai with the ambition to boost the MICE industry of the province through activities held both locally and internationally via local cooperation.