Oliver Thomas, CMW international reporter, takes a look at the technological innovation and expanding MICE sectors that are driving forward ambitious growth in Thailand. Click here to read the feature in the CMW May/June 2022 Magazine.
As global markets emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and return to international events at their own pace, each are taking personalised paths towards their vision of the MICE industry. In the Southeast Asian state of Thailand, a phased return of international travellers has been matched by plans to target technological innovation and the expansion of strategically selected sectors and geographic markets.
During the 2022 MICE Familiarisation Trip, organised by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), CMW witnessed first-hand the steps that are being taken to grow the country’s MICE credentials.
Thailand’s government has set out a four-month transition plan, which aims for the country to be in an endemic state by 1 July 2022. With its current MICE infrastructure, wide ranging ambition for post-Covid-19 growth and an exuberant cultural identity, Thailand is emerging from the pandemic as a treasure for the international event organisers’ community to keep their eyes on.
Thailand is looking to the future. Harnessing technology is at the heart of Thailand’s MICE strategy.
“We believe that technology will be a game changer,” Nichapa Yoswee, senior vice-president of TCEB, told CMW. “In fact, the world has been entering into the fourth industrial revolution (4.0), where the digital economy is everything. Covid-19 is just a tool that has accelerated the entrance into this revolution.”
TCEB wants to ensure that Thailand can be at the crest of this global technological wave, which it believes the MICE industry should be fully integrated within.
In 2021, TCEB launched ‘MICE Winnovation’, a programme that aims to match entrepreneurs with tech start-ups who can produce innovative solutions to event organisers’ problems.
The programme is split into four initiatives:
1. MICE Innovation catalogue – Online directory of tech entrepreneurs
2. Technomart – Business opportunity platform to showcase products and services
3. Inno-Voucher – Innovation coupon to seek funding from TCEB
4. Digital literacy of MICE – Online or offline workshops to exchange MICE digital knowledge.
Through this programme, Thailand hopes to attract and support organisers in producing events that are at the vanguard of global MICE innovation.
MICE… the expanding frontiers
Thailand has a strong ambition in the post pandemic environment to look at 2022 as an opportunity to expand its MICE frontiers.
Currently, Thailand has a strong foothold in the medical events marketplace. Yoswee confirmed that “medical conventions rank number one in terms of the sectors with the highest number of conventions taking place in Thailand.”
Thailand has an excellent medical infrastructure that provides organisers the expertise and infrastructure to produce effective international events. As of 2021, Thailand was placed 5th in the Global Health Security Index, indicating Thailand’s comparative international strength in this field.
Nondh Ninsanondh, managing director of Wild Blue, an international medical event organising company, told CMW that Thailand has “strong and successful medical associations that have good relations with academic networks.”
Wild Blue recently organised the Bangkok located World Aesthetic Surgery – Medicine, Anti-Aging and Alternative Medicine conference, 25-27 March 2022, that welcomed 700 onsite delegates.
Ninsanondh believes that many of Thailand’s hotels and venues are branded or chain hotels with rigorous international standards, critical for attracting events with high medical infrastructural expectations.
However, TCEB is also aligning its strategy with the wider governmental policies to modernise the economy. The ‘Eastern Economic Corridor’ (ECC) is a government policy aiming to transform Thailand into a 4.0 economy through investment in 12 automated and technology focused industries (robotics, digital, advanced agriculture, etc…) along the country’s eastern seaboard (Chonburi, Rayong, and Chachoengsao).
This investment includes the upgrading of MICE infrastructure in the region to support business events for these targeted sectors. TCEB is working in tandem with these national policies, seen through the outlined Winnovation strategy, striving to reap their reciprocal benefits for the MICE industry.
As the economy gets stronger in these specific fields, it will provide more advanced infrastructure to produce quality and supported business events, as seen currently in the medical sector.
Before Covid-19, the majority of Thailand’s MICE source markets were from the Asian region, yet it’s now looking to expand its geographic reach.
In 2021, Bloomberg rated Thailand first on its emerging markets list, highlighting Thailand’s initial success in seizing the post-pandemic moment.
Yoswee believes “the Covid-19 recovery should be an opportunity for Thailand to welcome more delegates and visitors from European and American countries.”
Being geographically situated close to Asia’s largest economic global hubs, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, Thailand has the capacity to connect with new world markets.
There is no better place to see this global potential than in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, a global city that provides organisers with ample opportunities for events and incentive experiences.
The Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC) and the Queen Sirikit Nation Convention Centre (QSNCC) are both over 65,000sqm spaces that deliver world class facilities to conference and convention organisers.
For medium to small scale events, Bangkok has a host of premium hotel brands such as the Millennium Hilton Bangkok, SO/Bangkok and Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park that offer venues across the CBD and the much sought-after shores of the Chao Phraya River.
This MICE infrastructure is matched by Bangkok’s cultural offerings. From the Wat Po temple with its ‘Reclining Buddha’, to exploring the city’s streets in a tuk tuk or sipping on a cocktail in one of the city’s many rooftop bars, event attendees are provided with ample unique experiences.
During the Thailand MICE briefing, 29 March, TCEB shared a Turkish proverb with the international events community:
“No road is too long with good company.”
It is clear that Thailand is now embarking on that road to progress. Global company is what they seek.