By Ian Neubauer
Thailand’s MICE sector is in tatters following recent civil unrest and the imposition of a State of Emergency, with companies and organisations around the globe cancelling, putting on ice or moving events to neighbouring countries.
Thailand’s dire prognosis was felt at last week’s Incentive Travel & Conference Meetings (IT&CM) tradeshow in Shanghai, when it cancelled a pre-arranged media briefing for the MICE industry.
“You can find anything you want in Thailand in terms of tourism and I would not be deterred to go there myself,” said Jose Neves, a medical event organiser from Germany attending the tradeshow. “But I would not send employees or a group there now.”
Ye Wei Rong, international travel manager for China’s Nantong Wanija travel agency, voiced similar sentiments, reporting that six groups of 16 to 53 persons bound for Thailand had switch to Singapore and Malaysia.
“The safety of our clients has to come first,” TTG Asia Media reporting him saying. “We don’t have to make a conscious effort to avoid selling Thailand because our clients are aware of the precarious situation and would not ask for that destination.”
The Australian National University’s Australian Science Olympiads has also cancelled an upcoming trip to Bangkok, saying it was “too risky”.
The development follows the release of a warning by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advising groups and individuals to suspend travel to the Southeast Asian nation.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand for its part is playing down the unrest, saying the situation in Bangkok has returned to normal, with shopping malls, hotels, transport and tourists amenities operating as normal.
Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) senior manager – meetings and incentives, Puripan Bunnag, refused to comment, saying he was awaiting instructions from the central government.