The Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (Public Organization) or TCEB joined force with eight key government and private organizations in Chiang Mai in laying a framework for further development of Chiang Mai as a world-class MICE destination. The framework, achieved at the Chiang Mai MICE Summit held in Chiang Mai today, is also a part of the stakeholders' efforts to translate the government's "Chiang Mai's Year of MICE" into concrete action. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130117/HK44100 ) Chiang Mai MICE Summit was convened by the collaboration between TCEB, Chiang Mai province, the Chiang Mai Provincial Administration, Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, Chiang Mai tourism Business Association, the Office of Commercial Affairs Chiang Mai, TAT Chiang Mai Office, Chiang Mai Creative City (CMCC) and Chiang Mai University. The main objective was to draw a framework for a master plan for developing Chiang Mai as the MICE destination for Thailand and ASEAN in five years. Mr. Thanin Supasaen, Chiang Mai Governor, said, "Chiang Mai is a center of the Northern region of Thailand with easy connection to high potential neighboring countries. Despite its huge economic potential, most people still know Chiang Mai only as a cultural tourism destination. As a result, the province's economy relies mainly on the travel season and lack overall business promotion master plan. Our effort to draw a concrete master plan and clear strategy to make Chiang Mai a MICE Destination will surely promotes development in all areas and generate more income to business operators and the locals throughout the year. The cooperation among the nine organizations today is clearly a significant move to draw Chiang Mai's own future by Chiang Mai stakeholders." Mr. Narong Kongprasert, President of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce, said, "The rapid development of regional cooperation framework, be it ASEAN, AEC, Greater Mekong Subregion and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will mean more and more demand for meetings, conventions and exhibitions in the member countries. This also means greater opportunities for business, economic expansion and cooperation across all areas. Being the center of the region, Chiang Mai, which already has high potential and capabilities, has to optimize its potential and capability in order to reap the increasing opportunities presented in the future. In the end, Chiang Mai will be able to become a key mechanism in driving the country's competitive advantages in the global market." Chiang Mai has very strong infrastructure advantages which support the city's plan to become a MICE destination. The province has a total of more than 33,000 hotel rooms. Chiang Mai International Airport is the country's third largest airport in Thailand, after Suvarnaphumi and Don Mueang International Airports respectively. It handles 401 domestic flights and 76 international flights per week, or a total of 12,377 flights per year. The airport can handle maximum of eight million passengers and 30,000 tonnes of cargo. In high seasons, seven airlines, including Air Bagan, China Eastern Airlines, Korean Air, SilkAir, Thai AirAsia, China Airlines and Air Asia, increase flight frequency to meet with the increasing demand. Mr. Thongchai Sridama, Acting TCEB President, said, "The cooperation in setting the clear framework for developing Chiang Mai as a MICE Destination is a significant strategic move for the country. Generally, spending per head of MICE travelers is 2-3 times higher than general travelers. More importantly, there is no season and MICE can generate income all year round. The shared commitment announced today by involved local organization is a very good beginning. Lessons learned from other countries showed that the success of a MICE city is driven by local people and administration and with support from the central government. What Chiang Mai has done today is already on the right track. TCEB is also ready to fully support Chiang Mai and concerned public and private agencies in making Chiang Mai a true MICE Destination, which will in the end drive overall national economic development. We are ready to encourage knowledge sharing and improvement of service standard for hotels, restaurants, meeting and convention facilities, travel destinations and others in order to help boost trade and investment in the long run." According to the Chiang Mai MICE Destination master plan, the development will be divided into three phases. In Phase 1, which begins in 2013, domestic MICE will be set as the target while all concerned agencies work together to improve infrastructure. By positioning Chiang Mai as a strategic MICE City, various education campaigns will be introduced. In the second phase, from 2014-2015, promotion will be extended beyond domestic MICE but covers regional cooperation blocks, including GMS, BIMSTEC and Chiang Mai Twin Cities. These cities will work closely together to grow the market. While business and economic growth progresses, the balance between business and cultural development have to be achieved. In the third phase (2016-2017), all agreed to promote Chiang Mai as a Global MICE City with capability of handling world's mega events.