Thailand seeks bigger share of booming business tourism market

SINGAPORE, Apr.25 (AFP) – Thai tourism officials on Tuesday launched a regional campaign to promote the kingdom as Southeast Asia’s premier convention and exhibition hub, setting up a rivalry with major players Singapore and Hong Kong. Business tourism is a growing sector in the travel industry and Thailand — already with a worldwide reputation among leisure travellers seeking good food, beaches and shopping — is aiming to capitalise on its fame to gain a bigger share of this premium market.

Travellers to international conventions spend three or four times more than leisure tourists, industry players say.

They are also less likely to cancel during crises because their events are planned years ahead.

While travellers for the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector account for only five percent of the total tourist arrivals in Thailand, their share of revenue is about 12 percent, said Vithaya Sintharapantorn, the sector director for exhibitions at the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEP).

Convention delegates spend an average 15,000-20,000 baht (400-532 US dollars) a day, compared with 3,000-4,000 baht for the leisure traveller, Vithaya said.

“So you can see that the MICE business i