Thai Mice industry likely to face challenges in 2013
The European debt crisis and local political instability will remain challenges for Thailand's meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) industry next year, say experts.
The size of Mice events from long-haul markets will become smaller as organisers try to save money.
As well, organisers, especially in the exhibitions segment, still remember the political strife of 2008-10.
If political turmoil breaks out again, then Thailand will lag behind other countries in the region.
To reduce risk, the state-run Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will spend 30 million baht to support domestic Mice activities next year.
It will collaborate with relevant state agencies and organisations to delineate segment targets.
As well, the TCEB will upgrade Hat Yai and Khon Kaen to "Mice cities" next year after previously designating Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Domestic Mice director Chiruit Isarangkun na Ayuthaya said the TCEB has met with many corporations including local airlines about holding joint promotions next year.
The annual value of domestic Mice activities will reach 20 billion baht by 2015, double the present value of 10 billion, emphasising their increasing importance to the country as a revenue source said Mr Chiruit.
Exhibitions director Supawan Teerarat said photos of the recent political strife remain in people's memories worldwide.
Any renewed turmoil could see Thailand's Mice industry lose its position in Asean to Indonesia or Malaysia.
The emerging market of Indonesia, with its population of 242 million, is increasingly attractive to business travellers and has much room to grow.
Singapore and Thailand are the regional Mice leaders at the moment, but the advent of the Asean Economic Community in 2015 will result in tighter competition among the members.
Malaysia and Indonesia have already started aggressively promoting their Mice industries, with strong backing by their respective governments.
"Foreigners think of Thailand more as a tourism destination than a place for Mice activities. The industry needs more government support," said Mrs Supawan.
Vichaya Soonthornsaratoon, the TCEB'S senior manager for meetings and acting director for conventions, said conventions will clearly be affected by the EU's economic problems next year.
The trend for conventions is negative, with sizes of these events halving from previous levels to an average of 500 participants per event next year, she said.
However, Ms Vichaya insists Thailand remains good value for money for EU events.
Thongchai Sridama, acting president of the TCEB, expects Thailand's Mice industry will see 7% growth in fiscal 2013, with 792,000 Mice visitors contributing revenue of 63.9 billion baht.
"Mice activities will play an important role in boosting tourism revenue to the government's target of 2 trillion baht a year by 2015," he said.