Mrs. Nichapa Yoswee, Senior Vice President Business of Thailand Conference & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) talks to TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific about the 2022 plan for MICE Industry and country-reopening related initiatives.
1. Now that Thailand is reopening, what are your business plans or projects that will contribute to the reopening policy of the government?
- Reopening policy means driving the economy is the key. We are ready to use MICE as a driver with the ambitious goal of producing big economic impacts for the country while benefiting foreign partners and clients. As a national bidder, we have, thus, planned for Thailand to host world-iconic events, especially in key regional cities in order to demonstrate the capacity of our multi-destinations for global events. By working with selected host cities from feasibility study, site inspection, site and infrastructure development plan, marketing to projected economic impacts, the bidding plans are now approved by the cabinet. Thailand’s bidding journey can go full steam. Letter of candidature to host Specialized Expo in Phuket in 2028 was submitted in early January by Thai Ambassador to France to Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in Paris. The other two are in the pipeline – International Horticultural Exhibitions Type B in Udon Thani in 2026 and World Horticultural Exhibitions Type A1 in Nakhon Ratchasima in 2029 We have been able to involve the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to host the two Horticultural Expositions and the Ministry of Public Health to host Specialized Expo. It is part of our initiative One Ministry, One Expo to secure government’s backing for our targeted events, which will create confidence and trust among our overseas partners. The concept transpires in other sectors, including our work towards One Ministry, One Convention goal by pairing global agenda and policy-level conventions with the right ministerial host in Thailand in our collaborative effort to win them. The timing of the three Expos is indicative of our foresight to enable events to produce middle and long term economic impacts and legacies for the country. Therefore, we believe the role of MICE industry will earn more recognition as an economic driver. We have Mega-Events and World Festivals Department dedicated fully to the approved plan. Now that we have TCEB regional office which can connect directly with the cities, which we believe will be an engine driving and revitalising Thai MICE industry and creating opportunities for relevant events and activities in the selected host cities in the near future.
- Reopening is the impetus for us to execute our plan for the country to host Thailand International Air Show. By collaborating with Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office, U-Tapao International Aviation Company Limited, the Royal Thai Navy and Chonburi province (including Pattaya City), TCEB is bringing the first air show to Thailand. This means huge business opportunities for aviation and logistic sectors and aviation professional development in Thailand. The show will be one key engine driving Thailand’s ongoing expansion of U-Tapao airport, propelling the country’s plan to set up aviation hub and aviation city or Aerotropolis in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a new prime area for investment in advanced industries and elevating Thailand’s capacity to accommodate the projected growth of the global aviation industry in the future. The ultimate aim is to transform the area into Center of Tourism Industry and Logistics & Aviation.
2. What is your key strategy to tap into international market in 2022 and beyond?
- Attracting business events back to Thailand and supporting them to achieve return on investment that will make up for the long absence of travel are our targets. Business recovery, professional reconnection and rejuvenation of business workforce, we believe, will become post-COVID agenda. Towards that end, we will put a spotlight on business and professional growth opportunities in Thailand and our newly-developed rewarding experiences for overseas clients. With our support network, professionalized workforce and support schemes for meetings and incentive, conventions, exhibitions and mega-events and festivals, we believe Thailand will become even more preferred destination. We have clearly identified growth opportunities, especially in such advanced industries as robotics & automation, aviation/logistics, tourism and health tourism, digital, biotech, bio-chemical and biofuel, and food processing. They are target industries of the government in advancing the Thai economy under Thailand 4.0 policy. As a government agency, we will attract events in these areas to Thailand and will provide extra support if they are located in the Eastern Economic Corridor or EEC, a strategic investment hub of the government. To demonstrate our commitment, we have launched Thailand LOG-IN Next to attract and support trade shows in logistic and infrastructure, a key fundamental sector to support investment and business operation of the aforementioned strategic industries. Moreover, we have One Ministry, One Expo and One Ministry, One Convention initiative to involve the ministry in hosting business events in the strategic industries that are relevant to their mission. It’s our strategy to create trust among overseas planners or organisers to bring their events to Thailand. However, our scope of trust creation is inclusive of the professionalism of Thai partners, as well. We have devised a business profile enhancement program ‘EO: Pro LEAGUE’ for Thai exhibition organisers to achieve pro level for international collaboration. The program is a resultant collaboration between TCEB and Thai Exhibition Association (TEA). Those achieving EO: Pro LEAGUE Index will be in a recommended list for international venture. Foreign business can, thus, short-cut their time and investment in finding Thai partners if they are to locate their shows in Thailand, either through joint ventures or co-organisation.
- One more attractive growth area is the expanded marketplace beyond Thailand itself, if events are hosted in the country. The strategic location in the heartland of Southeast Asia or ASEAN makes Thailand become a gateway to ASEAN market. Conventions and exhibitions held in Thailand can be billed as ASEAN events as they can often attract delegates from the region, contributing to wider opportunities to expand professional network and augment business deals of the organisers or event owners. Of all top ten source markets of Thai MICE industry, ASEAN member countries account for over half of them, according to our statistics. To reinforce our potential gateway, we have crafted support schemes to bring in ASEAN trade visitors to international trade fairs in Thailand and developed scheme to support national pavilion of the exhibitors looking for market shares in ASEAN.
- Zooming out a little further, TCEB and our association partner, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), raised the idea for convention bureaus in Asia to form Asia Convention Alliance or ACA. The Alliance was established last year when Thailand (TCEB and TICA) entered into agreements with Seoul Tourism Organization, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau and Taiwan External Trade Development Council. The ultimate goal is to drive more regional conventions, as well as the joint conventions organised in the country, state, city or territory of the counterparty by rotation among members as a means to boost the convention market in the region. The establishment of ACA is part of the collective effort to co-develop business opportunities among alliance members and strive for the status of sustainable regional convention destination.
- Our area-focused support for growth is not confined to the aforementioned EEC but other strategic economic zone of the government, as well. The western coast, where Hua Hin is located, has been designated as Royal Riviera by the government. This is where we have launched Festival Economy initiative by which we collaborate with the city in the area and partners from the private sector in creating festival based on the DNA and cultural identity of the city. The idea is to use festival in driving the economy of the area and ultimately enable 1 City 1 IP Event. So far, we have been able to register Awakening, which is a lighting festival. This initiative will be launched in other potential city destinations in the future. The door to growth opportunities in mega-events and festivals in Thailand will be wider open for overseas clients and potential partners. Of course, we have support campaigns for mega-events and festivals under this initiative to incentivize the development of this event sector.
- For meeting and incentive groups, we offer a wide range of newly- developed rewarding experiences we have intensively developed during the pandemic. By working with DMCs and local communities across the country, we have never had such a vast array of incentives to fulfill the rejuvenation purposes before. They are all localised products developed out of local culture and way of life under the guidance of incentive specialists and experts in creative industry. We believe the absence of international travel for almost 2 years is accelerating appetite for re-energising rewards and localised experiences. We are ready to make the incoming groups fully satisfied. Our recent highlight is 10 Creative MICE Routes, one in each of our 10 MICE Cities, which range from historical sites, beachside activities, local farming communities, suburban environment of big cities and ethnic culture.
- Of paramount importance that will sharpen Thailand’s competitiveness is we are driving events in Thailand into carbon footprint reduction mode. It is a response to national BCG (Bio- Circular-Green) economic model and global call on climate change. We have been working with Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization or TGO in producing carbon neutral event guidelines for event organisers aiming to achieve carbon footprint reduction. We have a series of tools, such as sustainable event guidelines, carbon reduction module, carbon footprint calculator, plus support network and incentives to spur participation in our eco-conscious initiative. Our ultimate aim is to enable events in Thailand achieve net zero carbon events in 2023. With a solid foundation as testified by the country’s top ranking in ASEAN in implementing sustainable development goals and in Asia for organising sustainable events, Thailand is well-equipped to become a destination of sustainable events, making events stand out with measurable economic, social and environmental legacies.
3. TCEB is now a national bidder, how do you strengthen bidding capability of Thailand?
- Taking a role as national bidder, we have since last year launched bid agent development program to train our stakeholders for international bidding and to form Thailand Bidding Team. The program is a resultant collaboration between TCEB, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA) and The International Association of Professional Convention Organizers (IAPCO). We have been able to attract personnel from public, private and academic sectors to join the program. That means Thailand will have a bidding team consisting of qualified multi sectoral professionals, who can form synergy to strengthen Thailand’s bid in the future.
- Apart from the bidding team, we have formed industry-focused network with industry professionals, businesspersons, industry experts involved in the strategic industries of Thailand 4.0 economic policy, such as robotics & automation, medical, agriculture and food processing. Our aim is to engage them in bid support and in supporting MICE as a vehicle to propel their industries. We believe our initiative is a testament of Thailand’s professional support network that can reinforce our bids and assure overseas business events of our strategic industries’ strong backing if they choose Thailand as their destination.
4. How do you design support schemes to attract overseas events post-COVID?
- We have factored in shifting business requirements resulting from the pandemic and crafted the responsive support schemes. Hygiene, hybrid, sustainability, impact and legacy are all the keywords in our new support schemes. It is a showcase of how adaptive we have been in keeping the industry moving under a new environment. As a strategic partner, we believe the new support schemes will help overseas clients make return on investment and return on time when locating or attending events in Thailand.
- For meetings and incentive groups, we have SMILE campaign or Safe Meeting Incentive Localized Experience, which will support hygiene and safety of events, food and beverage and meeting package. There will be top-up benefits for events with sustainable practice and using tech service from TCEB’s MICE Innovation Catalogue. Holding international conventions is eligible to Convene Plus scheme, which provides funding for virtual or hybrid platform and funding for social, environmental or economic legacies of events. For international trade shows, we have Co- creating Exhibition Future offering 360 degree support for organisers, exhibitors and trade visitors, be the event held in physical or hybrid platform at 2HY venues where hygiene protocols and hybrid tech are executed. We also have special support for new shows to be located in EEC. For mega-events and festivals, we have Festival Economy campaign with available funding for events producing measurable social, environmental and economic impacts and support for Thai festivals to attract more international content participation in order to promote mutual benefits.