Creative Economy
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Creative Economy

A Creativity-focused Nation

The creative sector is coming into sharper focus as it increasingly becomes more influential for Thailand’s economy. The country’s creative industries are innovative and gaining in popularity, and have the potential to become a growth engine accelerating and improving Thailand’s global standing. The smallest idea can morph into a runaway hit or even a masterpiece. However, what is important is to support those behind such ideas with the right platforms and partnerships involving policymakers, businesses, investors, as well as universities to drive creative industries to new heights. It is also worth noting that unlike manufacturing or more traditional segments of the economy, the creative sector, and the arts and entertainment industry more broadly, also contribute to cultural identity and social inclusion. And there is an important role for government to play in fostering connections – through a holistic approach, which can accelerate the growth needed which in turn, delivers rich cultural, economic, and social benefits.

Harnessing the Creative Economy

The creative economy includes a broad set of companies and media types which brings together technicians and management professionals to artists and designers. The Thai government recognises that different creative industries have specific needs. Highly centralised programs may be appropriate in some cases, while in others, local activities conducted in collaboration with stakeholders work best. The creative industry is one of the highlighted areas for increased development by the Thai government given its potential to enhance the country’s economic value and international recognition allowing Thailand to better leverage its soft power. Thailand is also in a unique position in being able to utilise the creative economy as an effective bridge between traditional and contemporary spaces which enable the country to build on its rich cultural heritage and intellectual capital through the application of new innovations and technologies. This unleashing of creativity also presents an important opportunity for Thai brands to distinguish and establish their presence in the global marketplace further giving a boost to the country’s service sector and improving awareness for the country.

On Location in Thailand

For Thailand specifically, the creative industry encompasses a wide range of business activities such as architecture and design, advertising, arts and crafts, fashion, film, video, photography music, performing arts, software and computer games, e-publishing, and TV/radio. However, it is the country’s growing popularity among foreign filmmakers as a top shooting location that is gaining the most attention. Motion pictures are one of the 5Fs creative industries which the Thai government has identified as adding economic value. Almost 200 movies were filmed in Thailand from the 1 July 2021 to 16 March 2022 period, of which 86 films from 33 countries imported their own production crews generating over 4.24 billion baht. While the nature of the film industry garners much of the spotlight, it has knock-on effects showcasing the country’s cultural heritage while supporting local industries and businesses. The Creative Economy Agency (CEA) is responsible for promoting the creative economy and has identified a related fifteen businesses, in line with definitions from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Data compiled by the CEA revealed that those businesses accounted for nearly 10% of the country’s gross domestic product and created jobs for approximately 2% of the total population.

A Regional Hub for Creative Industries

From digital content creation and design to the export of handicrafts, the government has prioritised the creative economy and aims to make Thailand a regional hub for both owners of intellectual property (IP) and service providers under the outsourced contracts of multinational companies in the near-term, while ramping up support for increased handicraft exports. The BOI is also contributing to this whole of government effort promoting a general overview of the creative economy, including and beyond BCG, having classified the creative industry into three main groups: the creative, digital, and tourism businesses, offering both tax and non-tax incentives to promote investments involving a wide range of activities within these three segments. Among the activities eligible for maximum corporate income tax (CIT) exemption of eight years are functional fibre, creative design and business development service, embedded software, high value-added software, high value-added software, and incubation centres. While under the BOI’s merit-based framework, activities that are not eligible for tax incentives may apply for three-year CIT exemption if they invest in research and business development. The creative economy is set to grab an increasing share of the Thai economy, and expected to grow to 1.51 trillion baht this year alone. However, the Thai government’s strategic and coordinated approach targeting interventions that increase the supply and sustainability of creative local talent, encourage demand for and development of local IP, and foster a more efficient and robust creative ecosystem is set to pay dividends pointing to an impressive future.

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