A northern city on the rise

The number of international meetings coming into Chiang Mai is rising, thanks to positive destination promotion and good events hardware

Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Center has helped to draw more meetings and events

Chiang Mai, one of the five business event destinations designated by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), was recently given a promotional boost to encourage meeting planners to consider the northern province for events during the Green Season, running from May to October.

Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Center has helped to draw more meetings and events

The MICE Events in the Rain programme, conducted by TCEB and the private sector, highlighted Chiang Mai’s array of creative ideas, unique cultural assets and modern facilities during the annual rainy season.

Chiruit Isarangun Na Ayuthaya, TCEB president, said Chiang Mai is an attractive destination for international meetings.

“The province itself has so much value. It is the second city after Bangkok be ready to handle business and association events due to its inventory of venues, hotels and attractions.

“Chiang Mai also offers many soft-eco activities that meeting delegates can participate in before or after their meetings,” he said.

Since the opening of the Chiang Mai Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2013, the number of events held in the province has doubled from 10 to 25 in 2018. This has helped to raise Chiang Mai’s standing in the annual ICCA top meetings city rankings.

In 2018, Chiang Mai ranked 25th in Asia, up from 27th place in 2017. In South-east Asia, Chiang Mai is the seventh top meeting city.

Within Thailand, Chiang Mai is the second most popular meeting city among association planners, right after Thai capital city Bangkok.

Three of TCEB’s 10 supported bid wins for the 1H2019 fiscal year (October 2018 to March 2019) were confirmed for Chiang Mai. These included Routes Asia 2020 which will expect 1,000 international and 500 local visitors; the Association for Woman’s Rights in Development Forum 2020 which will see 2,000 international and 200 local delegates in attendance; and the 14th Meeting of Asian Society of Cardiothoracic Amnesty which will welcome 1,000 delegates from around the world.

Although the MICE Events in the Rain programme was aimed at attracting meetings during the softer, rainy season, La-iad Bungsrithong, president of Thai Hotels Association Northern Chapter, emphasised that Chiang Mai is ready for events all year-round.

She said: “Chiang Mai is home to several of TCEB-endorsed Thailand MICE Venue Standard, including 57 meeting rooms in 16 venues, one special venue and one exhibition hall.”

Meeting planners are supported by a plethora of hotels. There are today 2,500 hotels operating in the province, offering a total of 60,000 rooms. New international brands have entered the scene, such as Novotel, joining existing ones like Shangri-la, Le Meridien, Dusit and Anantara.

Besides the hardware, Chiang Mai also enjoys good accessibility. Chiang Mai Airport, which operates 18 hours a day, serves 26 airlines the fly over 200 domestic and international services for more than 40,000 passengers every day. There are plans for the airport to operate  round the clock soon, as well as a possible second airport, according to vice governor of Chiang Mai, Komsan Suwanampa.

Within the destination, three train line are coming up to improve internal commute, which will benefit meeting delegates who wish to extend their trip in Chiang Mai for leisure.

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