At the recent 86th UFI global Congress in Bangkok, EW spoke with Ms Nichapa Yoswee, Senior Vice-President of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), which is driving a bold new course for events.
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is carving out a bold independent path, moving from a role of facilitator to flexing its new-found muscles as a host, bringing events into the country in its own right.
TCEB’s new independence is thanks to aa government decree which resulted in the bureau being now able to act as an official bidder for major events connected to 12 key industries. These are identified by the government’s Thailand 4.0 economy policy.
There has also been a rebrand, with Thailand ‘Redefine Your Business Events’ brand launched by TCEB to replace its Thailand Connect programme.
Nichapa Yoswee, Senior Vice-President of TCEB, says it is time to bring Thailand to the next level and notes that, in Asia, Thailand has the most number of schools that teach MICE studies.
“This year, we attracted 17 new exhibitions,” Ms Nichapa points out. “Usually, we get only five or six new ones.” She says the increase is due to Thailand 4.0, which has sharpened the focus on specific types of tradeshows the country needs. “With that focus, we are able to design a precise campaign for organisers to bring their shows to Thailand,” she says.
How had hosting the 86th UFI Congress in Bangkok helped Thailand promote its exhibition-hosting credentials?
“I humbly appreciate that UFI finally selected Thailand to be the host country for its Congress,” says Ms Nichapa. “Exhibitions had already been showing good growth and having the Congress here validated the potential growth we have in Thailand.
“If the majority of UFI delegates are pleased, then we did what we set out to do,” she adds.
So, what are the country’s key areas for developing exhibitions?
“The Thailand 4.0. plan gives TCEB and exhibition organisers direction for which industries they should work with to bring events in.”
The government last year launched the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) which has four strategic projects worth B470bn (US$15.55bn) and worth noting by organisers:
1. Aerotropolis: A plan to have U-Tapao airport become a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) aerohub.
2. Digital Park: A project where IoT and AI and Big Data can play a major role in development of the economy and upgrading people’s lives.
3. Innovation Park: Another government subsidised programme targeting the key 12 industry sectors and for bringing valuable knowhow to Thailand.
4. Infrastructure rail and seaport renovations.
“The railroad developments would be synchronised with the Belt Road project in China,” Ms Nichapa tells EW. “Thailand can become a very strategic hub in the heart of Asia Pacific for exhibitions as a result. Thailand 4.0, envisages the role of business events to drive policy and bring growth.
“We are on the look-out for top exhibitions in the designated sectors and we are talking to the organisers.
“And, for exhibitions, TCEB’s 360-degree Exhibition Success provides support from the start. That means subsidy for site inspection, setting up meetings with government bodies and local operators, and more to help them discover Thailand as an event destination. Once they decide on Thailand, we bring on the next stage of incentives.”
Support for organisers is not unconditional, however, Ms Nichapa underlines. “Their activities in Thailand must result in legacy for the local community and collaborations with local businesses must be set up. They are also encouraged to run at least three editions here and partner Thai organisers.”
It would seem the perfect storm when you have a CVB with real power and resource working in tandem with a government that has actioned a programme of mega infrastructure upgrades attracting foreign investment.
TCEB also has a three-year Log-In Masterplan aligned with Ministry of Transportation’s own Masterplan.
“This means that for seaports project we would bring in more maritime events and for the air hub initiatives, airshows. We will even inaugurate our own U-Tapau airshow in 2023/24,” says Ms Nichapa.
She notes there are five designated MICE cities - Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen - all with their own exhibition centres. “We have a 5-year plan and they also have their own plans for bringing international events,” she adds.
And, with a subvention campaign for ASEAN countries and China, “Thailand is more than ready,” Ms Nichapa adds.