|By Wang Sujuan and Wang Wen, China Daily,
Beijing / Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 13, 2011--BEIJING -- Thailand, which is bidding for the World Expo 2020, has its eye on China's corporate customers and plans to increase its number of Chinese travellers by promoting a luxury strategy.
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) expects that 53,000 Chinese travellers will visit for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) this year, 18 percent more than in 2010, generating US$110.22 million in revenue.
MICE is a burgeoning type of tourism.
"The increase of MICE visitors from China comes from the steady expansion of Chinese economy and the increased flexibility of travel regulations during the past decade," said Puripan Bunnag, senior manager of the Meetings Industry Department of the TCEB.
According to American Express Co, China's MICE market has grown by 10 percent annually since 2006 and will continue to do so until 2016.
In 2010, Thailand welcomed more than 45,000 MICE visitors from China, generating income of more than US$93.52 million.
These visitors came mainly from three cities -- Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
About 25 percent were in the insurance industry, and the direct-selling, event organisation, automobile, medical and pharmaceutical industries accounted for about 55 percent.
The TCEB organised presentations directly to potential customers in those three Chinese cities between Sept 2 and 7.
It launched its Luxury MICE Strategy to promote luxurious accommodations and services when it participated in the China Incentive, Business Travel and Meeting Exhibition on Aug 30 in Beijing.
Because of the high income of Chinese MICE visitors, 20 percent prefer high-end accommodations and services, Puripan Bunnag said. The TCEB has adjusted its marketing strategy to focus on this untapped niche market.
It showcased five cities -- Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi and Samui -- that are popular among Chinese MICE visitors, as represented by the combination of high-end accommodations, world-class MICE venues and tourist attractions in those cities.
Among the special services available, the TCEB can supply police escorts for groups of 100 MICE visitors as they travel from the airport to hotel, and a special MICE check-in service at the airport.
Puripan Bunnag said that luxury MICE visitors from China normally spend about US$700 more a day than general MICE visitors.
"This premium group of MICE visitors can generate income of between US$26.64 million to US$33.3 million for Thailand," he added.
Tourism authorities and business insiders are optimistic about Thailand's tourism market.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects to see 1.3 million to 1.4 million Chinese travellers in Thailand this year, up from 1.12 million in 2010.
According to Bangkok Bank Public Co Ltd, the largest international bank in Southeast Asia by holdings, Chinese visitors to Thailand reached 933,400 by the end of July, second only to Malaysian visitors.
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