According to figures recently released by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), the number of MICE visitors to Thailand in 2012 reached almost 900,000, a much larger figure that the 750,000 originally expected for the year.
Overall, the TCEB said the MICE industry was responsible for 9.49 percent of all tourism earnings in 2012, accounting for 0.58 percent of total GDP. Conventions contributed 33 percent, followed by corporate meetings and incentive travel, which contributed 25 and 24 percent, respectively. International exhibitions and trade shows accounted for 18 percent of total MICE revenues for 2012.
"In 2012, Thailand hosted a total of 7,382 MICE events, 6.84 percent up from 2011," acting president for the TCEB, Thongchai Sridama said in an official press release. "However, the number of visitors grew by 19 percent, which reflects TCEB's success in attracting mega-events to Thailand. Last year, the average stay for overseas MICE visitors was 5.54 days, with an average contribution of US$536, or THB16,084 per person per day," In 2012 MICE travellers from Asia were largely responsible for the strong growth in Thailand's MICE sector, representing 65 percent of all MICE visitors with 10 Asian countries forming the bulk of delegates, coming from India, China, South Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, respectively.
Ease of access and continual improvements to the facilities and infrastructure on offer have long made Thai destinations like Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin and Phuket popular with international delegates and exhibition goers for some time. More recently, a new generation of MICE destinations has also enjoyed increased demand, with Hat Yai, Kao Yai, Kanchanaburi, Krabi and Samui now also welcoming business and industry groups who appreciate the combination natural attractions, wide ranging facilities and quality of services offered. Niche events and gatherings have also gained traction in Thailand as private villas in island destination like Phuket and Samui have been made available for rent, many of them offering multiple bedroom configurations, generous living spaces and leading edge audio visual systems. Such properties are especially suited to corporate retreats and modest but sophisticated events and agencies as the villas also come with on-site hospitality staff with extra personnel easily sourced for larger gatherings. Management companies and agencies like Luxury Villas and Homes employ and train staff specifically to match the needs of business clientele and with all the amenities of a hotel provided, such properties are an appealing alternative for companies looking to organise a unique event or high-level meeting.
With several key nations in the region committed to forming the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, Thailand is well positioned as a leading market for imports and exports, as well as a focus of regional investment. The kingdom's cost-effectiveness, skilled workforce and dynamic manufacturing sector are predicted to create significant new business opportunities as ASEAN evolves into a single market, and Thailand's trade exhibitions will therefore play a significant role in intreat regional trade, generating new joint ventures and business opportunities within and beyond its borders.
Khun Sridama said the TCEB's strategy for Thailand will continue to focus on maintaining existing markets as well as expanding new target markets, particularly the ASEAN+6 market, which has a very high potential for growth. The revenue target from conventions and exhibitions in Thailand for 2013 is around THB63 billion (US$2 billion) and the bureau hopes to achieve this by specifically attracting visitors from Eastern Europe and Africa.