Thailand has been through many phases of economic development, with the most recent being Thailand 4.0, an innovation-driven government strategy.
Projects within the strategy include a submarine cable network that connects Thailand, Hong Kong and China, an electric rail system in Bangkok, and the expansion of major airports including Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang International Airport and Chiang Mai International Airport.
For the events industry, this new strategy stretches far beyond short-term tangible outcomes as the country will set itself apart as a specialised destination for content centered around innovation.
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has outlined ten industries that will flourish from the strategy: future automotive, smart device, health tourism, bio-technology, food processing, robotics, aviation & logistics, biofuel & biochemical, digital, and integrated medical services.
“Thailand is strong as a manufacturing base,” said Kanokporn Damrongkul, director, exhibition department, TCEB. “There’s a lot of government investment in that sector. And when you’re organizing exhibitions, you need strong government support.”
To add, TCEB’s developmental unit recently added a MICE Innovation department to “create or bring in innovation in order to support the industry”.
“We understand that innovation is quite important in order to support organisers to increase their ROI,” Damrongkul said.
To capitalise on the international market, TCEB is working to train and upgrade industry staff as well as get them certified or accredited. “English is not a problem [in Bangkok] anymore,” Damrongkul said when referring to younger support staff in the industry.
Thailand organises between 60 to 90 trade shows a year. While a majority of them are based in Bangkok, a couple of yacht shows are held in the southern island of Phuket.
"Bangkok is an incredibly popular destination for trade shows and it’s going to be difficult to convince our buyers and customers to do things outside if Bangkok – that’s a reality," said Richard Ireland, MD, Asia, Clarion Events.
In 2017, 215, 992 overseas visitors entered Thailand for trade shows equating to US$539m in revenue. The three biggest inbound markets are China, South Korea, and Japan.