Thailand’s MICE sector boosts tourism profits

MICE took a leap forward after the APEC summit in Bangkok

Tourism profits have thrived since Thailand reopened. For business travel, the sector known as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE), is at the front of prospects for the coming year.

MICE has been a major contributor to the hospitality sector in Thailand for years, with spending per trip almost double that of leisure tourists. In 2019, the international MICE market generated 94 billion baht (US$3 billion) in Thailand, while local MICE made 107 billion baht. MICE revenue accounted for 3.3% of GDP.

Sumate Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, said the MICE segment has rebounded quickly as corporations have budgets saved up over three years.

Sumate estimates the segment recovered to only 40% of the 2019 level last year. While companies are still struggling with manpower, he believes they will be able to hire more casual staff.

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With MICE at the front of Thailand’s short-haul market, Singapore is the biggest player. Long-haul markets include the UK, Australia, the US, and Europe, particularly Belgium, where a lot of multinational companies are based.

Sumate wants to see the “One Ministry One Mega Event,” come into being where each ministry hosts a national event related to its mission. For instance, the finance minister could bid for a World Bank conference.

China’s reopening has changed the trajectory of the global economy, especially Thai tourism, where Chinese visitors account for more than a quarter of arrivals, with at least five million Chinese to arrive this year.

China ranked No.1 in Thailand’s international MICE segment in 2019, with 250,000 travellers out of a total of 11 million. Some groups arrived from southern China last year, including around 200 Intel employees and roughly 400 Huawei staff.

MICE is at the front of the minds of Chinese travel planners. They prefer busier, more cosmopolitan cities – Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket – with good flight capacity. The greatest demand for incentive trips has come from education, finance, games, medicine and technology.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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