Blogger: Mr. Talun Theng, President, Thai Exhibition Association (TEA)

It was wonderful to witness TCEB’s newly-appointed president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya officially commence his tenure by highlighting the impact international business events have on domestic growth and stability.

It is expected that in the 2017 budget year, there will be a total of 27.1 million MICE travellers in Thailand, generating revenue of approximately 4.4 billion USD. And it is the role of those international visitors on overall industry turnover that speaks to the significance the global events industry has on national economies around the world.

While the majority of those 27.1 million MICE travellers (26 million) are domestic, generating approximately 4.4 billion USD, the international visitors – at just four per cent of the total (1.1 million) – generate double that figure; approximately 2.9 billion USD.

Thailand has recognized the need to accommodate this audience, targeting key overseas audiences with progressive campaigns such as its ‘Exhibiz in Market’ and ‘Bleisure’ initiatives.

Total revenue from MICE business is expected to rise from approximately 5 billion to 5.7 billion USD this fiscal year according to local media reports, due to increased average spend per capita, per trip, as well as a robust performance in the domestic MICE market.

Mr Chiruit also used his platform to address the impact a successful exhibition industry can have on domestic development. Both TCEB and the TEA (Thailand Exhibition Authority) have made a commitment to focus on the domestic exhibition market in addition to catering for the highly valuable international events market.

But there is more to a blossoming national events industry than visitor numbers. According to Chiruit, ASEAN countries face economic challenges that include high household debt, an aging society and reduction in working-age population. The current evolution of Thailand’s economy towards what our government calls Thailand 4.0 aims to counter these obstacles by setting targets in the 10 shortlisted industries the country expects will generate growth, industries typically built around value-added services and high-tech innovation. These include those in ICT and software development, as well as the robotics and automotive manufacturing industries.

“The MICE industry should take more part in developing the country,” he explained. “I still believe it will remain a key driver in distributing income to the regions and creating economic prosperity and sustainability.” This can be seen in the north of the country in the formation of the special economic zones and specifically the connection between Thailand and its Greater Mekong Subregion neighbours.

Internally, Thailand currently champions five specific locations optimized for MICE business that it refers to as the MICE Cities. These currently comprise Bangkok, Phuket, Khon Kaen, Pattaya and Chiang Mai; but more cities will be added to this list.

In time, Thailand will host several important international exhibitions, including IT&CM Asia & CTW Asia Pacific 2017, a trade show that Thailand will be hosting for the 16th time, and computer graphics and animation show SIGGRAPH Asia 2017, which sits at the heart of our Thailand 4.0 initiative.

We look forward to a long and fruitful chapter for TCEB under Mr Chiruit’s vision and guidance.