The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is targeting at least 23.1 million Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) visitors in its fiscal 2024, generating 136 billion baht or 75% of the level recorded in 2019.
The inability to attain a full recovery is attributed to global economic pressure, said TCEB president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya.
He said the Mice industry is steadily recovering, with the most critical factor ongoing geopolitical conflicts.
However, a policy of "bamboo diplomacy" means there are no obstacles for Mice travellers from any country seeking to visit Thailand, Mr Chiruit said.
Visa exemptions have attracted Mice visitors from key markets such as China and Taiwan, he said. Despite China's sluggish economy, entrepreneurs from the mainland have been travelling abroad to seek partners to close business deals, with Thailand viewed as a hub for Southeast Asian business, said Mr Chiruit.
The exhibition segment is the fastest growing among the Mice sectors, driven by strong demand for face-to-face meetings and trade, especially among Chinese operators, he said.
For fiscal 2024, which runs from October 2023 to September this year, at least 950,000 foreign Mice visitors generating 63 billion baht in revenue are expected to arrive in the country, according to TCEB.
The bureau also forecasts 22.2 million domestic Mice travellers generating 73 billion baht in revenue.
During the fiscal year's first quarter, between October and December 2023, Thailand welcomed more than 7.9 million Mice visitors generating roughly 39.4 billion baht in revenue. This represents a 90% recovery to the level recorded in 2019, driven by the high season and the resumption of more flights, said Mr Chiruit.
He said the positive momentum is expected to continue throughout this year.
As the government aims to elevate secondary tourism cities, Mr Chiruit said its "Mice cities" project includes a few second-tier areas that were selected among 10 pilot provinces by the Thai Chamber of Commerce. Each province will be promoted by highlighting its identity and uniqueness, allowing for collaboration rather than competition between each province, he said.
The Mice segment could help to propel Thailand's 11 soft power sectors because they need business matching and sales events to drive growth, said Mr Chiruit.
Spending among foreign Mice visitors is 66,000 baht per person per trip, while domestic Mice travellers' spending is 3,300 baht per person. Highlights for this year include the Fifa Congress 2024 and the Unesco Creative Cities of Gastronomy Subnetwork Annual Conference 2024, he said.
The bureau plans to support Nakhon Ratchasima in bidding for the International Horticultural Expo 2029 during the International Association of Horticultural Producers' meeting in March. TCEB is also in the process of requesting a budget for a feasibility study to host the InterPride World Conference 2026 and World Pride 2030.
In 2019, Thailand welcomed more than 30.8 million Mice visitors, generating 201 billion baht in revenue.