By WATCHIRANONT THONGTEP
“Building a series of mega-events in the Kingdom should be the best way to help promote Thailand as a world tourism destination,” EMA chairman Sermkhun Kunawong told The Nation last week.
“The government should remake key cultural events such as the Songkran Festival, the Candle Festival and the Loy Krathong Festival as world events to attract tourist arrivals for this year.”
By doing so, Sermkhun said |the local event business would |gain huge benefits, as would related parties ranging from small-sized enterprises to national organisations.
However he said that given the government’s focus on its anti-corruption policy, some ministries, state agencies and public organisations were taking a caution approach to spending on events or related activities for public relations.
“I understand that the government believes that PR activities and event organising could possibly lead to corruption among state agencies. I would like to convince the government to reconsideration this matter,” he said.
Last year, the government acknowledged the importance of tourism as a key driver for economic growth and offered tax incentives for domestic travellers.
Sermkhun suggested that the government should extend similar privileges to support the domestic MICE business, For example, he said state agencies could be encouraged to increase their meetings and conferences in the provinces.
He said the event industry needed the support of the government because the EMA expected there would be no growth in the industry this year after key business sectors like automotive and real estate were hit by weak consumption.
Similar to the last year’s figure, the event business this year was forecast to generate around Bt13 billion for the economy.
Sermkhun acknowledged that the junta seizing power last year was an important step towards ending the political and economic uncertainty after six months of anti-government demonstrations.
He said the event sector was hard hit by the protests because prime locations for organising key events in Bangkok were occupied by demonstrators.