The government has earmarked emergency relief for domestic Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) after the international segment declined by almost 50% because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) plans to spend 200 million baht to promote the Mice sector in partnership with the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) and SET-listed companies, providing cash incentives for meetings and seminars after the cabinet approved the extra budget last week.
Corporations with incentives or meetings in another province with at least 40 people will receive an additional 20,000 baht per group. Typically a 40-person group will have a total expenditure of 140,000 baht per trip.
This stimulus package should draw demand from corporate customers, and the fiscal package already lets firms deduct their expenses twice for organising meeting activities outside their province, said Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, the TCEB president.
The TCC and SET-listed companies have pledged to boost the domestic market by encouraging the private sector to arrange more meetings in provinces. At least 100 corporate groups have confirmed joining the scheme.
On Feb 26, Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the TCC, and 10 chief executives of top Thai companies will take part in a pilot incentive trip to Pattaya to kick start the Meeting in Thailand stimulus project.
The TCEB has prepared various other campaigns for international Mice markets for when the coronavirus threat subsides. The incentive package will be directed to potential short-haul markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Sumate Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, said the international meetings and incentives market is down 50% since the start of the year.
Groups that are travelling in Thailand are here because it was too late to cancel the trip, he said.
Mr Sumate anticipates new bookings resuming after March at the earliest, as the Mice business takes longer than general tourism to recover.
“After the crisis, this segment will take 4-6 months for full recovery because Mice requires more time for planning,” he said.
The coronavirus impact has been felt across the global Mice business. The sector is particularly sensitive to safety issues, rendering price strategies to retrieve confidence ineffective for most markets.
“Special price offerings will benefit certain markets such as China, which makes up 30% of Mice travellers in Thailand, as well as the Indian market,” Mr Sumate said. “But European and American corporate clients will not care much about prices that are slightly lower.”