Phuket to get events venue
Shelved convention centre set to be resuscitated
The Thai Hotels Association (THA) and the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation are looking forward to the revival of the shelved International Convention and Exhibition Center (ICEC) project on the resort island.
The 2.6-billion-baht project was put on hold by the Yingluck Shinawatra government at the same time as it gave a convention centre in Chiang Mai the green light to be developed.
This meant the South had no convention centre for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) visitors even though the region has several popular destinations for foreign travellers and businessmen from Europe, Asia, Oceania and the US.
Krisda Tansakul, president of the THA's southern chapter, said all related parties in Phuket tourism have talked with the Treasury Department, which was assigned to supervise the ICEC project.
The department has agreed to revive the project after being assured that developing the convention centre would not have any impact on natural resources.
The project is located near Mai Khao beach on an area of about 150 rai.
It had originally failed an environmental impact assessment because the site is near the island's last mangrove forest and an egg-laying area for sea turtles. But according to Mr Krisda, the location is far away from the egg-laying area and many luxury hotels are there without any impact on natural resources.
He said the Treasury Department understood the ICEC project and will put forward a proposal to the government after adjusting some designs.
The current capacity of Mice business in Phuket is only 2,000 guests, so many event organisers have shifted to other countries instead.
Phuket needs to have international convention and exhibition venues to serve demand and benefit not only Phuket but also nearby provinces such as Phang Nga and Krabi, he said.
"Demand for meetings and incentives is strong. We strongly believe that if the project is launched, it will make Phuket a preferred Mice destination in the region," Mr Krisda said.
Suksit Suvunditkul, chief executive of the Deevana Group, said Phuket had needed an international convention and exhibition centre for a long time. Although the province is a world-class tourist destination, income from Mice business is lower than in Chiang Mai or Khon Kaen.
Generally, big hotels in Phuket have a maximum capacity of 700-800 guests.
"Phuket has a big potential to increase Mice business if we have good convention and exhibition venues. Many events from Singapore and Malaysia will switch to Phuket," Mr Suksit said.