TCEB President Mr. Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya talks, in an interview with TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific, about TCEB's plan for the sustainable rebirth of the MICE industry as well as for Thailand's reopening initiatives.
- As a lead agency of MICE industry in Thailand, what TCEB is doing now/is planning to do to respond to the country reopening of the government?
The pandemic has put a pause on human activities for over a year, affecting quality of life of people of all strata.
The reopening is, thus, the goal of all countries.
In this respect, TCEB values the reopening in different dimensions. It is the restart of business, the accelerator of new innovation and the need to distribute growth opportunity to a wider public.
We have laid 4 key approaches in response to the reopening, including health safety, growth distribution, new innovation and service excellence.
First is the initiative for MICE entrepreneurs and manpower to enable them to deliver services compliant with new health requirements. We have worked with the Ministry of Public Health and Thai MICE associations to develop COVID-Free Setting, which is now becoming a pre-requisite standard and a must-practice for MICE businesses to ensure our overseas clients of safety when organising or attending events in Thailand. We believe our experiences in working with the Ministry of Public Health and Thai MICE associations throughout the pandemic are now a strong foundation for Thailand to position itself as a preferred MICE destination post-COVID.
Secondly, we have worked with DMCs, 10 MICE Cities and other potential destinations across the country to develop new creative MICE routes in each city, so that they become a new and refreshing idea for post-COVID events, particularly exclusive events or those looking for authentic local experiences. The products range from local farming/fishing communities, beach activities, mountainous experiences, rural suburb of big cities and historical sites and they are now at disposal for extraordinary and re-energising experiences.
Third is tech support. We have brought in a large pool of tech entrepreneurs into our MICE Winnovation project so that they can offer tech solutions for MICE entrepreneurs to run safe and efficient events. Some of their products have been utilised to run events during the pandemic, resulting in more confidence in staging post-COVID events in Thailand. We are now incentivizing MICE entrepreneurs to use tech solutions and attracting more tech entrepreneurs into MICE industry so that they can pair up for business and help upgrade safety standard of events in Thailand.
Fourthly, our signature service, MICE Lane, is now ready to resume operation at Suvarnabhumi airport in December to facilitate event VIPS, while the preparation to extend the service to Don Mueang airport and, on an ad-hoc basis, to Phuket International Airport is underway. We look forward to increased ease of immigration process at more gateways to Thailand.
The aforementioned four approaches are adding weight to our human resource development programs that we have robustly implemented even during the pandemic.
- TCEB announced in August 2021 the three pillar strategies for 2022, what are the targets or expectations of each pillar?
The three strategies are what we deem critical to the revitalization of MICE. The domestic market boosting is essential to maintain business momentum, while attracting overseas market will drive Thailand’s competitiveness and boost foreign income. The capacity-building ensures customers’ satisfaction and increases service standard.
The first pillar, strengthening domestic market, set sights on more domestic events generating more revenue and revitalising the economy. On a long-term basis, we expect that strengthened domestic market will be a foundation for elevated growth that can lead to international venture. In this connection, we produced support scheme for domestic meetings, resulting in the approval of 637 meetings which took place between April and September 2021 and generated economic impacts, both direct and indirect, at a total value of 119 million baht and created 966 jobs.
We have been working with alliances in both public and private sectors to upgrade domestic exhibitions in key regional cities to become engaged more in B2B activities. The aim is to develop each of them into a signature show of their region and into a national one. The invigoration of domestic market also takes as a core the development of more MICE Cities and other potential destinations across the country so that the cities are capable and motivated to host both domestic and overseas events, particularly post-COVID ones. In 2021 alone, we are able to add another 3 MICE Cities to the list - Surat Thani in the South, Udon Thani in the Northeast and Phitsanulok in the North. We now have a total of 10 MICE Cities. Of important note, our Festival Economy initiative, aiming at enabling potential destinations to create festivals based on their cultural identity, has resulted in 4 destinations producing such festivals, such as HOP FEST in Hua Hin, Diamond of the Salt in Phetchaburi. We will continue this initiative and select and encourage more destinations to find their DNA for creating festivals. The ultimate goal for the city is to achieve One City – One Licensed Festival.
The second pillar is the pursuit of opportunity to host world iconic events. The resultant development of MICE Cities is a basis for us to have a variety of capable host cities and, thus, an ambitious plan to attract global events to the cities. In this regard, we have developed One Ministry - One Expo initiative, involving relevant ministries and capable cities to host the targeted world iconic events. This initiative has received an impressive response with the approval of the cabinet for Thailand to bid for three global exhibitions - International Horticultural Exposition in Udon Thani in 2026 and Nakhonn Ratchasima in 2029
and Specialized Expo in Phuket in 2028. Of course, we view the success as a great stride for Thai MICE industry as provincial authorities become key players in our strategic pillar.
The third pillar is to enhance the industry capacity. We not only continue the existing standard programs, for example, Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TMVS) and ASEAN MICE Venue Standard (AMVS), training course/curriculum development and grooming future professionals, but also intensify the engagement of the industry with digital or online modes and tech solutions in running their business. Our aim in the capacity enhancement is now advancing significantly. In this connection, our leading role in driving MICE standard in ASEAN region is making one step forward as we are selected to lead the development of the competency standards for events and incentive travel professionals under ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement of Tourism Professionals (ASEAN MRA-TP).
- How do you position Thailand post-COVID that can cater to shifting needs and requirements of the industry?
I am confident that our strategies, development plans and the close collaboration we have with stakeholders respond well to the changing environment and requirements of the industry.
As a result of our development of new MICE products, new destinations, new opportunities, new expertise of Thai MICE manpower, our communication campaign Thailand Redefine Your Business Event – Experience the Extraordinary launched at the recent ITCMA CTW is a perfect fit.
- What is your strategy for MICE towards 2030?
TCEB has always emphasized an environment-friendly approach to MICE industry. I remember we introduced an environment-friendly meeting manual in Thailand since a decade ago. So 2030 is not new to us.
In addition, Thai government has announced since January 2021 BCG national agenda or bio-circular and green economic model to drive the country’s future economic development, requiring all agencies to follow the path to achieve sustainable, nature-friendly and innovative development.
In this connection, we will use BCG model to guide the Thai MICE industry and make it one of the registered trademarks of our industry. MICE activity is a large consumer of resources and produces plenty of waste, which has a serious implication on its carbon footprint. Our goal is to minimise carbon footprint of events and we must be bold enough to set the quantifiable targets for both TCEB-supported events and TCEB’s own events. Our initial target, for now, is 100,000 KgCo2e. Actually, we have already started implementing this initiative in 4 events after working with related agency, Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organisation. In combination, the 4 events are able to lower the carbon footprint by 11,043 KgCo2e, equalling to planting 6,061 trees. To drive the future of Thai MICE industry, its carbon footprint will be a key essence to earn recognition as an economic driver with environmental legacy.