A new dawn in Thailand

(Pictured above: Ambassador Pisanu Suvanajata)

EW’s Catie Owen attended the TCEB networking dinner at the Royal Thai Embassy in London and discovered how, in the heat of the pandemic, Thailand worked to do more than just put out the flames

In the midst of the UK’s intense July heatwave, a group of event professionals journeyed to London’s stylish South Kensington district to attend a networking dinner at the Royal Thai Embassy.

The event itself was organised by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), with attendees also receiving invitations from His Excellency Pisanu Suvanajata, ambassador of Thailand to the United Kingdom. For this evening, Thailand’s exhibition industry and thriving MICE scene took centre stage - rivalled only by the Thai cuisine that the night would later bring.

The purpose of the 18 July gathering was for the UK-based exhibition professionals to learn more about Thailand’s rebounding industry and expand upon their business relationships with the country.

It had been about three years since the last gathering, which was held in a Thai restaurant in Soho. However, as the ambassador pointed out, the 2022 get-together had the added specialness of the embassy’s newly renovated offices.

It seemed a fitting venue, considering the occasion also celebrated the Thai economy’s full reopening after its Covid-19-related standstill. As of 1 July, the Thailand Pass, medical insurance, and wearing masks in public were no longer a requirement to travel.

His Excellency pointed out that, as with many countries, the impact of the pandemic was dramatic on Thailand’s tourism, corporate travel, and MICE sectors. Nevertheless, this gathering of event professionals was a demonstration of the country’s keenness to reintroduce international events to its industry and economy.


Thailand’s economy itself seems to be doing well, as the ambassador noted. He told his audience that 2021 saw the country’s GDP grow 1.6% from 2020’s levels and is expecting 2022’s growth to expand by about 3%.

A complementary parallel was drawn between the UK’s Build Back Better initiative, which seeks to rebuild the UK’s economy post-pandemic while moving towards net zero, and Thailand’s Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy. As both are initiatives that focus on sustainable growth; the ambassador commented that it gives both countries a platform to cooperate on.

The cooperation between the UK and Thailand would be built on an already demonstrably positive relationship for their business sectors.

Recent research from the Tourism Authority of Thailand showed that, by May 2022, the UK ranked second in the number of international arrivals to the country. First place went to European travellers, who account for 25% of Thailand’s international arrivals.

Looking ahead

When looking to the future, it seems that the Thai Government foresees other opportunities to expand collaboration between the two countries. In June, the Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) identified six areas to improve the economies, including agriculture, healthcare, food and beverages, digital, trade and investment, and finance. To these ends, both sides of the agreement have pledged to increase annual trade to the pre-pandemic level of about £5bn (US$5.7bn).

To the ambassador, the global exhibition industry is crucial to meeting this target due to its ability to stimulate economic growth. To that end, TCEB estimates that MICE visitors to the country will increase from 130,000 in 2022 to 250,000 in 2023 – an increase of 95%.

TCEB vice-president Nichapa Yoswee unveiled their ‘Empowering Exhibition Economy’ campaign – dubbed ‘E3’ for short. Much like the Kensington evening, the E3 campaign’s goal is to develop international organisers’ confidence in Thailand as a destination for exhibitions, in addition to showcasing its top venues’ capabilities.

The association demonstrated in their presentation that these venues are in no short supply – Bangkok alone has seven, with the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) boasting a new renovation.

Outside of the city, the nation has six additional venues bringing the total to 13 - not including Aerotropolis, an upcoming venue.

Yoswee also delved into the key upcoming events in Thailand’s trade show calendar, spanning from 2023 up to 2028. In its capacity as a national bidder the bureau has clearly been tireless in its mission to bring international exhibitions and events to the country: and it shows. In total, the country has 49 new shows in its current pipeline.

Upcoming events draw closely on heavy-hitting technology industries, such as aviation. Notably, two cornerstone events of this type to be held in the country include the Aviation, Logistics, and Infrastructure Week, to be held in anticipation of the 2027 Thailand International Airshow.

TCEB’s bidding has largely focused on 12 target sectors including electric and autonomous vehicles, energy, digital, and sustainable industries in line with Thailand’s BCG economic model. Shows in the bidding pipeline include the UFI Asia-Pacific Conference 2025 and the Asia CEO Summit 2025.

TCEB attendees

New programmes

Several programmes were unveiled at the evening – all designed to encourage business between international exhibition markets and Thailand, and work towards a progressive development for the country’s industry.

For TCEB, these programmes are designed to inevitably lead to ‘ROE – Return on Everything’ – benefitting the association, exhibitions in Thailand, and the international organisers who set roots there.

To further its mission of developing Thailand’s vital relationship with international exhibition organisers, TCEB announced the ‘PEOs Empowerment: Powerful Subvention Programme’.

According to the association, the Programme’s goal is to support exhibition organisers by bringing in buyers from CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam), and also attracting show organisers to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). This will be done by offering CLMV visitors incentives, and business and government partnerships.

Also revealed at the embassy evening, TCEB’s ‘MICE Alliance: Powerful Partnership’ programme is designed to build networks and synergy among organisations as national policy makers, state agencies, and international corporations. Partnerships will include competitive sectors within the exhibition industry including tech, localisation, and airlines.

Thailand’s portfolio of new development programmes also addresses its commitment to sustainability. Yoswee detailed TCEB’s ‘Carbon Neutral Events: Powerful Sustainability Programme’, the primary function of which is to act as a MICE venue standard and guideline that promotes sustainable events, good environmental practices, and carbon footprint reduction.

A driver behind this programme is TCEB’s own set-in-stone sustainable target: for 2025 to be the ‘Carbon Neutral Events Year’ for all the association’s supported shows.

Withstanding the heat

It was clear to attendees of the TCEB networking dinner that, when Covid-19 concerns and pandemic restrictions put heat on the exhibition industry, Thailand stayed in the frying pan and prepared for the future.

As uncertain as that future may seem (especially in events), Thailand’s upcoming programmes and investment makes for a solid foundation from which to thrive.