LOVELY CHIANG MAI, with its elaborate temples, luxurious spas, legendary food and ever-interesting night market, has called to tourists for decades. Sometimes referred to as the “Rose of the North,” Chiang Mai offers a place to chill and rejuvenate in beautiful surroundings.
But wait, there’s more. In the last few years, Chiang Mai built an impressive reputation as a prime MICE destination. According to a study conducted by the International Congress and Convention Association, in 2016 Chiang Mai hosted 20 international association meetings. In 2017 the city hosted more than 50,000 international MICE travelers, and in 2018 events such as Chiang Mai Bloom (183,589 visitors) and Lanna Expo (253,504 visitors) upgraded Chiang Mai’s MICE activities to an international level.
Since 2004 the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau — a public organization dedicated to promoting and developing business events — worked toward establishing Thailand as a premier MICE destination. Of Chiang Mai’s MICE potential, Khun Chirut Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, president, TCEB, said, “Chiang Mai provides a unique ‘Lanna’ culture and ecological setting for events.”
Under the initiative “Chiang Mai The Splendid City of Culture and Destination for MICE in Asia,” TCEB established several strategies for expanding MICE development in the city. It has promoted public relations and marketing activities targeting the Asian MICE markets, upgraded services and tourism products, developed human resource support for MICE activities and upgraded infrastructures to support MICE activities in Chiang Mai.
In an area as scenic and historic as Chiang Mai, it seems a shame if business travelers only see the inside of convention centers and meeting rooms. To round out Chiang Mai’s MICE appeal, TCEB developed a series of post-tour activities for corporate travelers.
Ecotourism trips to places like Mae Taeng Cooperative, Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park and On Tai Village give visitors a chance to learn about the village lifestyle and try their hand at crafting local products. For the active set or those just looking for a nature fix, Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park proves a beautiful place with hiking trails and natural hot springs. For foodies, a gastronomy route visits local restaurants to learn about the preparation of traditional Thai dishes. Those interested in local handicrafts can see some of the best woodworking Thailand has to offer at Baan Tawai, while at Mueang Sat Luang Community artisans make beautiful traditional-style lanterns. At the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Centre, Huay Tung Tao Reservoir and Punpon Farm, a “teamwork route” offers a series of team-building activities while enhancing brainstorming and knowledge sharing.
An impressive list of venues helps further the city’s MICE clout. For starters, the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre remains one of the largest convention and exhibition centers in Southeast Asia, with a total of 344,352 square feet of meeting space. Decorated in Thai Lanna style, it hosts both national and international conventions, exhibitions and fairs. A combination of an impressive amount of useable space, modern facilities and professional services makes it ideally suited for world-class international MICE events. Khum Kham International Convention Complex, decorated in luxurious Lanna style, is fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology serviced by an experienced team. The venue accommodates as many as 2,000 visitors and handles anything from concerts to gala dinners and conferences.
Besides the convention and exhibition centers, numerous hotels throughout the city offer excellent meeting space for events of all sizes. Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew bills itself as one of Chiang Mai’s leading convention hotels, and rightly so. Not only is it centrally located, but it also boasts 100,000 square feet of meeting space, with its Baan Lan Tong (Convention Hall) measuring 34,000 square feet. Mercure Chiang Mai Hotel includes 12,691 square feet of meeting space, while the magical property of Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai Resort features beautifully crafted heritage buildings surrounded by 60 acres of tropical gardens and rice paddies. Several outdoor venues provide the perfect backdrop for evening events, and a pillarless ballroom with a 29-foot ceiling seats 500. And though the setting is authentically traditional, the property offers the latest technology plus an experienced team to ensure a superb experience.
With an anticipated 1,320,000 international MICE visitors coming to Thailand in 2019 and the expansion of Chiang Mai’s MICE profile, Chiang Mai is bound to enjoy another amazing year.
In the future, Chiang Mai’s various neighborhoods will turn into alternate venues for MICE activities, with the hope of boosting the local economy and enhancing the neighborhoods’ creativity when it comes to local identity and resources. Currently, two Chiang Mai co-op communities, Mae Taeng Cooperative Limited and Doi Saket Agricultural Cooperative Limited, are ready to accept MICE visitors.
The Veranda High Resort Chiang Mai – MGallery by Sofitel offers a lovely mountain retreat that blends in with the natural landscape. It makes the perfect venue for smaller MICE groups looking for a place to do business without distractions, where participants can relax between meetings in tranquil surroundings.
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