The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) yesterday announced a plan to boost the Thai MICE industry's sustainability leadership in Asia.
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Based on the continuing success of its "Green Meetings" initiative in Asia, the bureau aims to expand the approach with "Sustainability Thailand" as the next strategic goal for the local meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions industry, which is worth about Bt70 billion annually and involves more than 82,000 people.
Thai MICE operators are also urged to focus on the adoption of management methods that support sustainable development, encompassing its three dimensions - social, economic and environmental.
At its "Thai-land's MICE Industry: Mov-ing forward from Green Meet-ings to Sustainability" seminar, the TCEB launched the new ISO 20121 standard (event sustainability management system), which recently made its global debut at the London Olympics.
Thailand will be the second country in the world to implement the standard for the MICE in-|dustry, after the United King-dom.
Nichapa Yoswee, director for MICE capabilities at the TCEB, said the agency had launched its green initiative five years ago, and had followed the environment-friendly trend ever since.
"From our point of view, sustainability will become global practice recognised by business people," she said, adding that as MICE becomes a key marketing tool being used by business firms in promoting their goods and services, all MICE operators need to be in line with the sustainability trend.
"For the TCEB, we want to be a 'thought leader' in introducing new sustainability initiatives to local MICE operators," Nichapa said .
Guy Bigwood, MCI Group sustainability director, said during his seminar presentation on "Trends towards Sustainability in the MICE Industry" that with the increase of population, especially the middle class, and the demand for resources, coupled with a reduced availability of natural resources, business needs to think differently. The global middle class will significantly increase from about 1 billion people today to between 3 billion and 4 billion by 2050.
More people of course means more consumption and more waste, he said.
"Smart companies are looking to how they can manage their teams, and their environmental impact in more positive ways. The sustainability revolution creates one of the biggest business opportunities for Thailand," he said, adding that the meetings and exhibitions industry can be a catalyst for the transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon and responsible economy.
"No other industry touches so many other business sectors and people. The meetings and exhibitions industry can show society how to develop and manage sustainable buildings [hotels and venues], manage waste efficiency, create and manage high-performance teams, create new private-public collaborations, implement widespread certification programmes, and develop responsible supply-chain programmes," said the executive.
By considering "people, planet and profit", Thai businesses can become more efficient, self-sufficient and responsible. The road to the green economy is a positive and fruitful one, he added.
Thongchai Sridama, acting president of the TCEB, said the bureau is launching the ISO 20121:
Event Sustainability Management System, which has been specially developed for the MICE industry.
Thailand is the first country in Asia and the second in the world to adopt the standard.
The aim is to encourage the public and private sectors to move towards sustainability in their goals and daily operations.
The standard is based on the British BS 8901 and was applied for the very first time in the organisation and management of the London Olympics 2012.
To accelerate adoption of ISO 20121 certification, the TCEB will provide training to provide a deeper understanding and offer specific guidance for MICE operators, he said.
"By stimulating industry-wide adoption, the ISO 20121 standard will also provide a further boost to Thailand's MICE industry, enhancing its image and international standing as a responsible 'global citizen'," said Thongchai.
"We therefore aim to communicate this new image in the international arena through trade shows and roadshows in key markets during the coming years.
"We are confident that this approach will make a strong and important contribution to differentiating Thailand's offering as we bid to host international mega-events," said Thongchai.