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Thailand hosts UFI annual congress in 2004

The Union of International Fairs, (UFI) recently announced that Bangkok, Thailand was voted as the venue for the…

The Union of International Fairs, (UFI) recently announced that Bangkok, Thailand was voted as the venue for the 2004 UFI Annual Congress which will be held November 24-26, 2004, at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC).

Union des Foires International (UFI) is the union of the world`s leading tradeshow organisers and fairground owners, as well as the major national and international associations of the exhibition industry, and its partners. UFI represents 234 member organisations (composed of 197 exhibition organisers/hall owners, and 37 associations and partners of the exhibition industry), present in 148 cities in 73 countries on the 5 continents.

UFI promotes trade fairs and exhibitions globally as a unique marketing and communications tool. Collectively, UFI members organise a total of 640 UFI Approved trade fairs and exhibitions around the world. As leading international tradeshow organisers, UFI members currently represent more than 5,000 annual trade fairs and exhibitions representing over 50 million square metres of exhibition space rented annually with over 1 million exhibitors participating in these events each year and attracting more than 150 million visitors annually.

UFI members owning exhibition centres represent a total gross rentable exhibition space of more than 12 million square metres.

The UFI Annual Congress is a major event that provides a forum for dialogue and an efficient networking platform that brings together the majority of its members for the exchange of experiences and opinions on common issues. Hosts of the UFI Annual Congress are first and foremost required to be members of the Union des Foires International (UFI). Thailand is represented by the Trade Exhibition Association (Thai), or TEA, as the official host of the 2004 Annual Congress. In this endeavour, TEA receives full support from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The assistance extended by TAT is all-encompassing and extends beyond its financial contribution to support and facilitation in related areas to ensure the success of the event.

Mrs. Juthamas Siriwan, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand reiterated that It is a great honour for Thailand to be hosting the 71st UFI Annual Congress in 2004. The Tourism Authority of Thailand extends unequivocal support to the Trade Exhibition Association (Thai) and the Union of International Fairs in the organisation of this high-powered global event. The 2004 UFI Annual Congress presents an ideal opportunity for UFI members, particularly the world`s leading tradeshow organisers, to see first-hand, the level of readiness, the professionalism, the quality and diversity and the remarkable potential that Thailand offers in the staging of world-class international exhibitions.

The Royal Thai Government is very much aware of the substantial social as well as economic contribution of international exhibitions and the attendant meetings and conferences to the local community of the host country. Thailand consistently participates in the world`s leading international trade shows and had a major presence at the World Expo in Hannover, Germany in 2000. Through participation at such world events, we have witnessed the true power of international exhibitions, the benefits of which extend well beyond the trade and foreign exchange earnings it generates for the country and includes the creation of jobs and employment, the distribution of income to various destinations around the country, the transfer of knowledge, skills and experiences, developed service infrastructure which translates into a better quality of life for the local residents. For developing countries, including Thailand, the power of exhibitions as a driving force for development is recognised and greatly valued. The promotion of international exhibitions is a vital component in the country`s overall plan to establish Thailand as a world-class meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) destination, and is an integral element of the 9th National Economic and Social Development Plan.

To achieve the above, a proposal to establish a Convention and Exhibition Bureau dedicated exclusively to promoting Thailand internationally as a world-class meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) destination put forward by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in 2001 was approved by the Thai Government. Thailand`s Convention and Exhibition Bureau (CEB) was formally established as a public organisation by a Royal Decree and effective as of September 28, 2002, the date of publication in the Royal Gazette. The Bureau is entrusted with promoting international exhibitions in tandem with international meetings and conferences and will oversee marketing and promotion campaigns in major markets and coordinates Thailand`s participation in high-profile global trade shows.

Mr. Charnchai Svangsopakul, Chairman – Organising Committee UFI 2004 Thailand and Immediate Past President of TEA reiterated that The participation of agencies of the Royal Thai Government, such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and the Board of Investment (BOI), in support of the 71st UFI Annual Congress clearly demonstrates commitment and significantly raises credibility and level of confidence in the country. This sends an important signal to potential international trade partners and overseas investors.

Readiness is the most important criteria in the selection of a host country. With UFI being a congress of event organisers, the nature of the business dictates that every new event or venture undertaken pushes the boundaries further and raises the benchmark. Hence, unlike most other Congresses, there are no set guidelines. Initiative, innovation, creativity and resourcefulness are the prerequisites in the conduct of business. Furthermore, in addition to the fundamental elements of accessibility, quality and diversity of venue and accommodation offered, professional event management capabilities, reliability in delivery, a country that demonstrates a clear intention to promote sustainable growth in the exhibition sector have a distinct advantage over others.

Thailand`s Professional Exhibition Organisers (PEOs), venues, and service providers particularly stand contractors, electrical suppliers, and freight forwarders, have all reported a dynamic and healthy year-over-year growth of no less than 30% in the last three years. Industry players are also confident that with firm commitment and continued support from the Thai Government for the sector, this strong trend will prevail in the coming years.

Mr. Svangsopakul, Chairman explains. In extending the invitation to host the 2004 UFI Annual Congress, Thailand has made a very significant investment. The reasons for pursuing the event is to pave the way for future growth of the exhibition industry in Thailand. More shows, more exhibitors and more visitors translate into increased foreign exchange earnings and foreign investment and positive economic impact for the country.

From the UFI perspective, by bringing the Annual Congress to new destinations and new markets such as Thailand, UFI as an organisation helps to broaden the scope and horizon of its members and helps members to source new opportunities for investment. Demand meets supply and everything else falls into place.

Thailand is of course renowned for its beautiful beaches and friendly people. These are nice pluses to have, but ultimately, it comes down to business. What needs to be accomplished during the few days of the Congress is to showcase the full range of business opportunities and facilities available in Thailand.

Professionalism in all we undertake determines event success. As a country, we need to ensure that the investment being made is cost-effective and translates into positive economic impact. The promotion of visitor attendance is also a critical element of success. One of the TEA goals is to raise visitor attendance for the 2004 Congress from the current UFI average of 250 to 350 trade visitors. Even this very small increment represents a substantial increase in business opportunities for industry members. If the potential for a business deal exists, beyond the actual value of the deal itself, for Thailand, it means at least a total of 5 or more repeat trips to Thailand. In addition to the higher spend per MICE visitor as compared to the average tourist and the increased length of stay, potential deals from the 2004 UFI Annual Congress will contribute significantly to income distribution and the sustainable development of the country, the impact of which will be felt far beyond the exhibition or tourism industry, Mr. Svangsopakul concluded.

Since the submission of the letter of intent in 1999, TEA and TAT have been actively promoting Thailand as a destination for exhibitions through consistent participation at UFI events around the world such as the 67th Annual Congress in Hong Kong in 2000, the 68th Annual Congress in Cologne in 2001, and most recently the 69th Annual Congress held in Munich, Germany in October 2002.

Thailand is also sending a delegation to the 70th Annual Congress in 2003.

The Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) is the Official Venue for the 71st UFI Annual Congress and NCC Management and Development Co., Ltd., has been appointed the Official PCO (Professional Convention Organiser). The scheduled date for the Congress is November 24-26, 2004. The programme of meetings being held in Thailand include key sessions such as Meetings of the UFI Decision-Making Bodies: General Assembly (Ordinary and, if needed, Extraordinary), Executive Committee, and Steering Committee; Meetings of the UFI Regional Chapters; Meetings of some UFI Thematic Committees: Business Management, Associations, Statistics, etc; Meeting of the Global Council; and high-level conferences and presentations on topics related to current trends and issues faced by the exhibition industry. The last Congress, the 69th UFI Congress was held in Munich. Each year, UFI meetings rotate between the continents and the countries of the region representing its membership.


Through TEA, association members representing Thailand`s trade exhibition industry hope to position Thailand as a global international centre for trade exhibitions. In November 2002, TEA launched a 5-year strategic plan. Working Committees on Strategy, consisting of industry members representing Event organisers, Venues, Contractors, and Freight Forwarders, jointly initiated strategies to achieve this strategic mission within a period of five years, setting out initially to position Thailand as the focal point for trade exhibitions in Southeast Asia.

In his capacity as Chairman of the Strategy Working Committees, Mr. Svangsopakul explained, The purpose of this cooperation is to complete the vision of the association which is for Thailand is to be the focal centre for trade exhibitions in Southeast Asia serving as a catalyst for the region. Our trade exhibitors would be world-class and our market space reaching beyond ASEAN. Our exhibitions are to be recognized for quality, efficiency, effectiveness, and attractiveness that will result in maximum benefits for all exhibition participants. We aim to serve with all our capabilities, creativity, and competencies. We will succeed with our unique position, resources, culture, imagination, and cooperation.

To achieve its vision, Trade Exhibition Association (Thai) mapped out strategies in six key areas. These are to position Trade Exhibition as an industry through a cluster-based approach; partnering for prosperity; developing knowledge, infrastructure and workforce; innovating services; delivering unique values and experiences; and championing trade exhibition by promoting Thailand`s Convention and Exhibition Bureau (CEB) and TEA as champion for trade exhibition industry development.

For more information on Union des Foires International, the Union of International Fairs, (UFI), please visit

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