Thailand's meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) business is growing strongly, opening up great opportunities for joint promotions among Southeast Asian operators, says one industry executive.
Attractive exhibitions such as the Bangkok Bike Expo 2013 help to promote the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions sector. The four-day event organised by NCC Exhibition Organiser Co is being held at Impact Muang Thong Thani from today until Sunday. It is expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors and generate 220 million baht in revenue for organisers.
Sumate Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (Tica), said promotions should focus on emerging markets that will become major Mice markets in the region.
"In Southeast Asia, competitors will become competition partners. These operators may in turn organise big events and raise the profile of the region," said Mr Sumate, now in his third term as president.
He said Thailand has seen an immense increase in the number of hotels, event venues and tour options available to Mice planners and organisers.
The Mice sector is expected to bring in 940,000 visitors and generate 88 billion baht in revenue this year, from 1 trillion baht and more than 22 million tourists projected overall.
Mr Sumate noted the strong competition from countries outside the region including Brazil, which offers similar products, while Turkey and several African countries have rich resources. Importantly, the latter are much closer to Europe, major clients for Thailand's Mice.
To improve the local Mice sector, cooperation between the government and private sector is essential. Operators still do not have unified business promotion efforts, he said.
For example, some operators want more man-made tourist destinations, which he views as unnecessary because existing destinations are sufficient.
The government should concentrate on the big picture of tourism promotion strategies and enforce action plans efficiently, he said.
Also, Mr Sumate wants the government to develop the Tourism and Sports Ministry seriously as a grade A ministry, as revenue from tourism is huge and continues to increase even when other industries hit a rough patch.
"If the ministry plays a greater role, involved organisations will follow suit and cooperate," he said.
He pointed out there are a number of national agendas for tourism promotion, but many of them have yet to be accomplished. Even plans to help achieve the government's ambitious tourism revenue target of 2 trillion baht in 2015 still lack solid measures to push the goal forward.
Concrete promotion plans and clear regulations would ensure sustainable development of the industry. Investment in tourism-related products such as hotels and resorts must comply with local rules and avoid environmental impacts and congestion, he said.
Mr Sumate said Tica will emphasise online marketing on its website this year. Products from the association's 320 members will be better advertised.
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- Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong