The Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) segment has started to see busy schedules from international events in the second half as full reopening creates momentum for a gradual recovery.
Paul Kanjanapas, chief executive of Bangkok Land PCL, the operator of Impact Exhibition Management, said the number of events in the second half tallied 500, of which the biggest international event was the Unicity conference gathering 12,000 participants from 52 countries during Aug 6-7.
The number of international artists performing at Impact has grown with 51 concerts.
He said entertainment events have filled the space of Impact every weekend from July through September.
Mr Paul said the current occupancy rate is 50%, which almost matches the pre-Covid level, and is expected to close at 60% when its fiscal year ends in March next year.
"We saw more enquiries for on-site meetings and busier schedules as international travel and social gatherings are allowed with no more restrictions. The tax deduction for domestic seminars and exhibitions until the end of this year also helps support local events in the second half," said Mr Paul.
Sumate Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, said the association saw fast growing enquiries for meetings and incentives from international corporates, particularly from Europe which already had pent-up demand since before Thailand fully reopened in July.
"In the early stage of reopening, guests were mostly from Asia. At present, more European corporates are looking for meetings and incentives in Thailand. Our clients said they prefer to take long-haul trips once they can travel for the first time in two years," he said.
He said lead time for each booking was shorter, from typically six months to only 3-4 months for events slated for October and November as clients want to be assured they have enough meeting spaces and hotel rooms during the high season.
However, the overall recovery for this year is forecast at only 30% of the pre-pandemic level as international conferences with a large number of participants still need a longer time for organising.
A 50-60% recovery would likely happen from next year.
Mr Sumate said the length of stay and average expenditure of this segment remain unfazed by the weak economy compared to leisure tourists.
As China and Hong Kong are still imposing strict travel rules, Thailand has become the priority destination for the international Mice market.