Thailand’s 10 MICE Cities are all geared up to host both domestic and international business events, but some cities like Bangkok and Phuket remain more popular than others.
This year, two up-and-coming cities have come to the fore – Khon Kaen, in the medical and palaeontological fields, and Songkhla, which recently hosted the PATA Destination Marketing Forum 2022 and will welcome a bioscience conference in December.
Designated MICE Cities must meet eight hosting criteria: accessibility; support programme from the city or city package; a variety of attractions beyond meeting activities; accommodation and amenities; venues and facilities; image and reputation; environment and hospitality; and risk, safety and security.
“For some factors, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) can support the destinations directly, such as upskilling services, standardisation and promotion.
But we must also influence the government to support certain factors like infrastructure, an international airport and more budget support,” said Supawan Teerarat, senior vice president – development and innovation, TCEB.
She said TCEB supports cities in bidding and when won, the organisation will also help to promote and develop the business events.
“Bringing national and international MICE events to the destination will promote and increase the reputation of the city to the world, and uplift our Thai entrepreneurs to learn new knowledge, and innovation and technology,” she noted.
Some planners, however, have cited challenges in some locations. These include insufficient flights and poor international connections; limited hotel, venue and restaurant choices of international standard; and a shortage of skilled staff who understand business events.
Kris Srisatin, founder and managing director, Stream Events Asia, commented: “Khon Kaen is now well-known for exhibitions – both international and domestic – and corporate meetings.
“For Songkhla, after hosting PATA this year, it has found interest with new facilities, activities and products as well as community-based tourism. It is suitable for neighbouring (markets) Malaysia and Singapore, as well as domestic MICE groups.”
Sumate Sudasna, managing director, Conference & Destination Management, said: “Programmes go to destinations that appeal; those that lack the right ingredients will not attract planners.
“That is why destinations need to develop indigenous elements which could be of interest in terms of history, culture, produce, arts and crafts, nature and community. Of course, accessibility and accommodation are prerequisites,” he said.