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MICE, a new darling for ASEAN
Xinyi Liang-Pholsena and Marissa Carruthers, reporting from ATF 2017, Singapore, January 18, 2017
 

The MICE industry is finally getting its attention at the regional level, with ASEAN member states placing increasing attention and rolling out concerted efforts to develop the sector further.

 

Wiparat Tharateerapab, director, government and corporate affairs department, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), said: “In the past, ASEAN governments are more focused on leisure tourism (but) there are many hotels and venues with events facilities, and many players in the MICE value chain.”

 

Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre

 

Nichapa Yoswee, TCEB’s director of MICE capabilities development department, told TTG Asia: “The existing Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TMVS), adapted from international ISO quality standards, is used to incentivise MICE operators to upgrade themselves. It already sees more than 400 meeting rooms certified in Thailand.”

 

TMVS covers three categories – meeting rooms, exhibition venues and event events – with the meeting rooms standard being further divided into three groups of hotels and resorts, convention centres and public facilities.

 

Thailand, as the ASEAN lead coordinator for MICE venues, will remodel TMVS for use at the regional level as the new ASEAN MICE Venue Standard (AVMS). According to Nichapa, the 45th Meeting of ASEAN NTOs at ATF will see the adoption of AVMS’ final version (in the category of meeting rooms in hotels) as well as its Audit and Certification Manual. ASEAN NTOs will discuss whether to expand the certification to exhibition venues or event venues next.

 

Following an audit training in March, auditors from each ASEAN member state will then nominate certified venues in their country for the first AVMS Awards at ATF 2018.

 

Nichapa hopes to get at least 10 nominees from each country.

 

ATF 2018 will also see the launch of a MICE Forum, which will feature seminars and a small exhibition, according to Wiparat.

 

Meanwhile, Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, as the coordinator for Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professional (MRA-TPA), has drawn up proposals to adopt and incorporate MICE competency standards at the ASEAN level. Ani Insani, director, tourism institutional relations at the Ministry of Tourism, said the standards will ensure the same experience at any 10 ASEAN countries.

 

The Philippines has also devoted more attention to MICE. Said Baby de Luna-Landan, who helms the MICE department at the Tourism Promotion Board: “MICE and Events Tourism is (one of the priorities) of the National Tourism Development Plan of the Philippine Department of Tourism.”

 

To stay competitive, Singapore Tourism Board’s Business Events in Singapore fund has been expanded to support industry-driven business development initiatives and provide funding for local association members to start lobbying activities prior to biding for events. STB also recently collaborated with CNN, Bloomberg and other online platforms to establish Singapore as a premier MICE hub anchored on thought leadership and business opportunities.

 

On the other hand, Manivong Sounh, director general of Laos’ Tourism Marketing Department, says going niche is the way for the country to pursue its MICE ambitions. “We do not have the capacity or resources to cater to big events (so) we will focus on small-scale events and develop the relevant skills and knowledge,” he said.

 

Lending a hand to Laos’ MICE plans is the 2017 Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF), which will be organised by Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MCTO) in Luang Prabang this June. Said Jens Thraenhart, executive director of MCTO: “We wanted to look at how smaller destinations can compete with cities for big events, so we came up with the answer of (showcasing) experiential events at MTF.”

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