February 16, 2012 1:00 am
Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), a not-for-profit organisation, is spearheading the drive to produce specially-trained professionals for the MICE industry.
MICE stands for “meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions”, a sector which Akapol Sorasuchart, the TCEB president, says generates Bt60 billion a year for Thailand.
“Thailand is one of the top MICE destinations in Asean. For meetings and incentive tourism, we are second to none. For exhibitions, we have the most space in the region while in conventions we are going to hold the big Rotary International convention of 30,000 people in May this year.”
“Besides the Bt60-billion revenue, there is added value from the MICE industry. Hotels and related businesses, logistics and pre- and post-conference leisure all benefit.”
“The tourism industry accounts for 6 per cent of the country’s GDP. Of this, the MICE industry constitutes 12-13 per cent of total tourism revenue,” he says.
However, the industry’s major problem is a shortage of specialised personnel, so TCEB has initiated agreements with higher-learning institutes to launch the country’s first MICE curriculum
“Most of today’s personnel are not specially trained for the industry. They are mainly graduates of programmes in services and hotel management, but not specifically the MICE industry.”
“We need specialists to help the industry grow faster, so we have created a curriculum to train experts and help them develop world-class skills. We have to be prepared for bigger competitors in this industry as we open up to wider competition in the Asean Economic Community, or AEC” which begins operating in 2015.
“We have been working with international bodies on MICE and with universities in Australia to keep up with the latest trends,” he says.
In Thailand, TCEB has already received expressions of interest from four universities – Mahidol University’s International College, Prince of Songkhla University, Ban Somdej Chaopraya Rajabhat University and Siam University.
The MICE curriculum covers an entry-level introduction and overview of the industry.
The course outline is divided into three major parts: 1) An overview of Thailand’s MICE industry; 2) Event management in MICE; and 3) other important aspects of the industry.
Taken together, the three parts will give students a comprehensive knowledge of the workings of MICE, from basic principles, event management for corporate meetings, incentive programmes, international conventions and exhibitions, organisations, companies, and key industry standards.
The curriculum also covers industry ethics and governance. The course will be continually developed and upgraded to a full curriculum to be delivered by higher education institutions nationwide.
TCEB has also collaborated with the Thai Exhibition Association and Thailand Incentive and Convention Association on the new curriculum, resulting in the MICE 101 programme, which will meet the needs of all players in the industry.
The programme will form part of the first- and second-year foundation course for undergraduates. The goal is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the MICE industry and its management, which can be practically applied after graduation and prepare them for a professional career in this sector.
The courses will be ready for launch at all four pilot universities during the 2012 academic year. TCEB estimates an intake of about 285 students for the four pilot universities.
With wider understanding and appreciation of the course, this number will rise as other institutes get on board, with up to 40 universities across the country set to offer the programme prior to the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
This will contribute to TCEB’s efforts to develop human resources in the MICE sector, covering up to 1,000 professionals from the public and private sectors, teachers and students.
This, in turn, will allow Thailand to maintain and extend its leadership in Asean’s MICE industry in a sustainable way, says Akapol.