As Thailand plans to fully reopen to domestic travellers in mid-October, and likewise be ready to welcome visitors from abroad, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA) President Khun Sumate Sudasna shares his thoughts on this situation. The clear message is that it’s time for the MICE industry (Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions, and Exhibitions ) to plan for the opportunities to come.
This is Khun Sumate’s full message; very relevant to the future of the Royal Coast as an underachieving MICE destination.
“By 15th October, Thailand will be fully open to domestic travellers, and will likewise be ready to welcome visitors from abroad. This date is based on the government’s growing confidence in its drive to vaccinate most of the country during this time frame. Subsequently, Thailand will also be abandoning the conservative approach that has been its modus operandi since the start of the pandemic in February 2020.
These developments beg the following questions: Are we in the MICE industry prepared? Is our marketing plan in place, and are we ready to kick off our marketing blitz? As the Cabinet has officially approved the Phuket sandbox scheme, which will see the island reopen to vaccinated visitors from select countries, by the time you are reading this newsletter, tourist arrivals from abroad will already have started. The Phuket sandbox will shortly be followed by a similar scheme in Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, which will most probably come into effect in mid-July.
Enquiries will now start coming in, for both Thailand and all of our competitive overseas destinations, and it is imperative that we be competitive and prepared to answer. We are privileged that the Thai government, more specifically TCEB, is helping TICA with turbo-charged assistance.
In other MICE developments, the Thai Cabinet has recently announced 26th April as ‘National MICE Day,’ what may be the first of its kind in Asia, in a bid to enhance awareness of the national importance of the MICE industry, and its contributions towards economic development and key national policies. The day was chosen based on historical research jointly conducted by TCEB and the Convention Promotion Fund.
TCEB is also encouraging the recovery of MICE in Thailand by spearheading the Regenerating Legacies Recovery Roadmap, a collaborative initiative to revive global conventions by creating future-forward solutions with association experts and industry partners. Other events to further revitalise the MICE sector include a virtual webinar held by the ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA), which urged all stakeholders to adapt to changing trends, reskill, and embrace digital transformation in order to forge forward with events and exhibitions.
Despite recent setbacks in the country due to the global pandemic, the Thai government has continued to develop Thailand’s infrastructure to ready itself for the country’s full reopening, as seen by its plans to unveil the Bang Sue Grand Station as the new central hub for travel by year’s end. This paints a bright picture of the future of connectivity in the country, and we have high hopes that this will herald other high-speed railways to other destinations in the region.
ASEAN has also recently woken up to the importance of sustainability and green MICE. Let us not forget that this will have a major impact on our sales and marketing, and might even be one of the contributing factors for why a client will choose Thailand over other destinations. As we are now preparing ourselves, let us hone our skills, work together, and stay positive. I would like to wish everyone all the best, and don’t forget that because fortune favours the prepared, your success is Thailand’s success.’’
Sumate Sudasna; President, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association