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NEWS UPDATES 19 June 2010

Thailand bids for World Expo

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Thailand wants to make a bid to host the World Expo in 2020, and the resort getaway of Phuket could be a likely venue.

Authorities are also trying to restore business confidence following the recent political unrest. A new campaign has been launched to rejuvenate the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) industry, according to Channel News Asia.

Thailand is looking to do more than participate at the World Expo in Shanghai. It wants to put in a formal bid to host the event in 2020.

Feasibility studies are already being conducted. Some possible sites include Ayutthaya, which is on UNESCO's world heritage list, resort getaways Phuket, Pattaya, Chiangmai, and the King's summer retreat in Hua Hin.

Akapol Sorasuchart, president, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau, said: "There are six venue sites being proposed at the moment. What we have to do is try to pick the best site, the best theme, and move forward from there.

"We learn from China. China started well before everybody else. They started 11 years before the actual event took place here. If I remember rightly, they started in 1999 when the event is in 2010."

If Thailand gets to host the World Expo in 2020, it will not be as big or as expensive as the one in Shanghai. But authorities said the investment it brings will be key to Thailand's future development.

"The legacy of the World Expo and the areas that will be used afterwards will be key for Thailand development in the future."

Thailand is also counting on China to help boost its economy. Last year, exports to China stood at more than US$16 billion. Chinese imports to the kingdom reached US$17 billion.

Thailand is hoping to boost bilateral trade to US$50 billion this year, with the country planning to spend US$12 million to revitalise the MICE industry. MICE visitors for this year saw an 11 per cent decline from the original target.

Mr Sorasuchart said: "At the moment, we must admit that a few events have been cancelled in the past 2 months. We have estimated the loss somewhere around 3000 million baht. It's quite a big number if you think about the growth in the last two quarters."

Thailand has started a campaign to sell the country as an attractive venue for meetings and conventions, targeting China's huge market.

The new campaign will highlight Thailand's value for money, variety of choices, and Thai-style of hospitality.

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