Thailand is the centre of Asia’s MICE business. With its strategic location in the heart of ASEAN, Thailand is a connecting point to the rest of Asia. The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (Public Organisation), or TCEB, has formulated a strategic plan for the development of the Thai MICE industry. TCEB’s plan includes co-operation with strategic partners in the ongoing development of the 10 key MICE cities across the country. Additionally as it has established regional conference and exhibition promotion offices in the country’s four regions that work with government agencies and the private sector to support MICE events and organisers across the country. TCEB is working proactively to continue to develop Thailand’s MICE industry and create sustainable models of prosperity to lay the foundations for Thailand to be the centre of Asia’s MICE business. TCEB continues its close work with provincial authorities and local associations, agencies, and entrepreneurs to build awareness and employment opportunities across the country, ready to unlock MICE opportunities with a formula based on the principles of “Revive, Support and Promote”. The aim is to push the Thai MICE industry to the forefront of the Asian MICE landscape and seek out every opportunity to help revitalise all aspects of the nation’s economy.
Thailand is a key link between countries in Asia, with economic ties spanning the continent that include the transfer of goods, services, skilled labour, trade and investment. Thailand is the continent’s gateway between ASEAN and the rest of Asia. It is also an important production and export base for many of the world’s major industries, including the automobile and automobile component industries, computers and IT industries.
According to Bank of Thailand data, the Thai economy will follow an upward trend in 2023, with the recovery of the tourism sector, and an improving export sector in the second half of the year as the global economy and the economies of Thailand’s major trading partners continue to improve. GDP for the second half of the year is predicted to grow to 4% from the 2.9-3% shown in the first six months, resulting in overall growth of 3.6% for the year. Inflation in the first half of the year was still high at 3.3% but is expected to drop below 2.5% in line with global conditions. Thailand’s economy is forecast to show continuous growth in 2023, driven by local consumption and tourism. The numbers for foreign tourist arrivals continue to improve, both with the expected number of arrivals reaching 29-30 million, and their increased spending per head. However, the government continues to closely monitor global economic conditions and has prepared, and is ready to implement, policy changes in line with market changes, and to promote the sustainable long-term growth of the local economy.
Photo credit: Bank of Thailand
The first six months of 2023 saw 891 projects apply for investment promotion, an increase of 18% over the previous year. The value of these investments was 364,420 million baht, and increase of 70% over the same period last year. There were 464 applications in targeted industries with a total value of 286,930 million baht accounting for 79% of the total value of applications. Most of these investments were in the electrical and electronics industries, agro-industry and food processing, and the automobile and automotive parts industries.
The electrical and electronics industries saw 106 investment applications with a value of more than 160 billion baht, a seven-fold increase over the same period last year, and continue to show steady growth due to the move of many production bases to Thailand to avoid trade wars and conflicts between the world’s major powers. Production costs in Thailand also remain comparatively lower when compared to the West and investors’ confidence in Thailand continues to grow, leading more businesses to move their production bases to the country.
Agro-industry and food processing are the country’s biggest industry and 139 new projects have brought in 51,270 million baht in investment in addition to the considerable expansion investment from existing Thai and foreign investors. Over the past six months many top international companies have expanded their production bases in Thailand, including American potato chip manufacturer Pringles, and Belgian biscuit manufacturer Lotus Biscoff.
On 11 July 2023, Thailand’s Sovereign Credit Rating according to Fitch Ratings was BBB+ and the nation’s credit outlook was rated stable, public debt has begun to decrease and foreign investment has increased by 70%.
The 13th National Economic and Social Development Plan is a second-level plan which implements the country’s National Strategy and sets the direction for the next five years ofnational development from 2023 – 2027. The Plan has laid out 13 development milestones. Its plan to transform the country into a “developed country with security, prosperity and sustainability in accordance with the sufficiency economy philosophy” is divided into four key
1) Manufacturing and Targeted Services’ Dimensions
Milestone 1 - Thailand is a leader in high-value agricultural produce and high-value processed agricultural products.
Milestone 2 – Thailand is a sustainable quality-oriented tourist destination.
Milestone 3 – Thailand is an important global production base for electric vehicles.
Milestone 4 – Thailand is a high-value medical and wellness hub.
Milestone 5 – Thailand is an important regional trade, investment, and strategic logistics gateway.
Milestone 6 – Thailand is the ASEAN hub for the digital and smart electronics industries.
2) Economic and Social Opportunity and Equality
Milestone 7 – Thailand has strong, high-potential and competitive small and medium-sized enterprises.
Milestone 8 – Thailand has livable and safe regions and smart cities with sustainable growth.
Milestone 9 – Thailand has less inter-generational poverty and adequate social protections.
3) Natural Resource and Environmental Sustainability
Milestone 10 – Thailand is a circular economy and a low-carbon society.
Milestone 11 – Thailand can mitigate risks and impacts from natural disasters and climate change.
4) Factors Driving National Transformation
Milestone 12 – Thailand has a high-capability workforce with a focus on continual learning and meeting the needs of future development.
Milestone 13 – Thailand has a modern, efficient and responsive public sector.
2. Easy Access
Thailand enjoys a strategic location within Asia, and boasts many facilities, public utilities and international-standard convention centres. The country is home to 10 MICE cities: Bangkok, Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phitsanulok, Pattaya, Phuket, Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Udon Thani, with additional locations ready to be added to the list of options for a wide variety of MICE activities.
The Andaman International Health Centre Project is a government-supported project to lift Phuket to be a “world health city” in line with the nation’s development strategy to become an “international medical hub”. The project aims to increase access for complex treatments to residents of the Andaman provinces and to build confidence in foreign visitors to those provinces. The project is divided into three main parts:
1. The International College of Health at Prince of Songkhla University will produce public
health personnel for various agencies to address public health issues in the Andaman region and other parts of the country. The goal is to produce doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, medical technicians, and Thai traditional medicine practitioners and provide educational opportunities for people in the area. The Prince of Songkhla University also aims to become a public health education centre for the ASEAN region.
2. Songkhla Nakarin Hospital in Phuket will be a specialised medical centre with 300 beds. It will focus on tertiary care services, precision medicine, telemedicine, and premium international visitor services, as well as providing specialised treatment services for complex diseases, and will share a referral system with other Andaman hospitals. The facility has a budget of 4,762 million baht with construction beginning in 2023 and is expected to open in 2026.
3. The Andaman International Health Centre will include the Songkhla Nakarin Digital Dentistry
Centre which will be the southern region’s first modern international dental centre. The centre
is scheduled to open in 2024 and is expected to increase the value of international medical
tourism in the Andaman region by at least 10%, or around 62,000 million baht per year.
The government has accelerated its investment plans to expand the country’s Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang, Phuket, and U-Tapao international airports. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that the number of arrivals to Thailand will increase to 200 million passengers per year by 2031.
1. The Suvarnabhumi Airport Development Project Phase 2 includes the construction of the Secondary Aircraft Concourse 1 (SAT-1). Construction is now complete and it is expected to open before the end of this year. The building can accommodate 60 million passengers per year, up from the current 45 million capacity. The development of the airport’s third runway is scheduled for completion in 2024. The development will increase the airport’s capacity to accommodate aircraft to 94 flights per hour, up from the current two-runway capacity of 68 flights per hour.
2. Phase 3 of Don Muang Airport’s Development Project comprises construction of a third passenger terminal, a new concourse building, taxiway, warehouse, and additional supporting infrastructure including a new car park building, office building, development of the airport road, maintenance buildings, garbage collection areas, drainage systems, fire and rescue buildings, and more. The project will see the airport’s capacity grow from 30 million to 40 million passengers annually.
3. The U-Tapao Airport Development Project will support the economic activity in the Eastern Special Development Zone (EEC). The project is divided into four phases which, on completion in 2055, will see the airport able to accommodate 60 million passengers per year. Phase 1 of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will see the airport able to handle 15.9 million passengers annually.
4. Phase 2 of Phuket Airport’s Development Project will increase the airport’s annual passenger capacity from the current 12.5 million to 18 million. The project includes expansion of the international terminal, expansion of aircraft parking bays, aprons, and utility systems. The Airports of Thailand Public Co. Ltd. is in the process of hiring design consultants to work on the project details.
Credit Photo : thaipublica.org
The World Bank’s recent Logistics Performance Index 2023 (LPI 2023) ranks Thailand ninth out of 139 countries and territories in the Infrastructure category, scoring 3.7, equal with Greece, Israel, Malta, and the UK while Singapore ranked first with a score of 4.6. Malaysia also ranked in the top 10 along with Iceland, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. It is expected that Thailand’s logistics sector will continue to expand in 2023 with continued growth in exports including E-commerce.
Strategies of the Thailand Department of International Trade Promotion
o Promote alliances and networks of Thai logistics operators.
o Create trade opportunities and recognise the international potential of Thai logistics operators.
o Develop the potential of Thai logistics entrepreneurs to reach certifiable
standards to be able to expand and compete internationally.
o Promote the development of database systems utilising modern digital
o Support the linking of E-commerce and E-logistics.
3. New Development
The Yellow Line of Bangkok’s mass transit system, incorporating 23 stations, began service on 19 June 2023. The line supports 17,000 passengers in each direction each hour, with 30 trains currently operating on the line meeting the needs of citizens. The Yellow Line conveniently links to other Bangkok rail systems and provides easy access to:
o Shopping malls, including Union Mall, Central Ladprao, The Mall Bangkapki, Thanya Park, Mega Bangna, Central Bangna, Seacon Square and Imperial World Samrong.
o Hospitals, including Ladprao, Paulo, Vetchthani, Samithivej, Thai Nakarin, Gluay Nam Thai 2, and Ramkhamhaeng.
o Public parks, including Chatuchak, Railway, Arboretum Klongchan, Bang Krachao, and Suan Luang Rama IX.
Credit Photo : Wikipedia
Virtual experience, or technology, employs technologies such as AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), MR (Mixed Reality), and Metaverse to create 360-degree virtual realities that allow people to connect between the real world and the virtual world, offering them new and unique experiences. This can be especially useful in the tourism industry engaging travellers with immersive virtual MICE or art exhibition experiences or virtual-reality tours.
In the second half of 2023, the Thai government is accelerating its human resource development programmes to further stimulate the economy. Such programmes aim to bring more revenues into the country, enhance economic and social stability, and provide sustainable pathways for labour resources and training so that workforce skills are continually developing to meet the needs of a changing world and demands from the international market. Training programmes include focus on language readiness, technological advances, and support for those wishing to learn new skills and change career paths. Such offerings increase the ability to earn more and elevate long-term worker productivity, enhancing the lives of workers and their families, and help build a more equitable and sustainable society and economy.