Eastern economic corridor (EEC) is going to be a growth engine of Thai economic development. It covers 3 provinces including Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao. Several industries get benefits from the investment of government, state enterprises and companies. A lot of infrastructure has been built to facilitate business activities including MICE. Moreover, the area also has advantages that can be exploited because of strategic geography and popular tourist attractions. As a result, there will be an expansion of industry along with the support from government’s development plan which will drive a potential growth in MICE industry. The stakeholders can seize these opportunities to increase MICE activities.
EEC and its side project, Eastern MICE Corridor (EMC3)
Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) is a development project under the Thailand 4.0 initiative via the cooperation between the public sector and the private sector. It covers the area in the eastern part of Thailand which consists of Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao. The project is intended to be the leading ASEAN economic zone throughout the development of core areas such as an investment in new infrastructure, the support for industrial clusters and smart urban planning. As a result, the benefits fall into various industries such as tourism, medical hub, digital, logistics and robotics. On the other hand, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has launched the Eastern MICE Corridor (EMC3) model alongside with EEC project to promote the growth of MICE industry by taking the advantage of the existing infrastructure. It aims to transform EEC into new MICE promoted area which will attract more MICE activities, as well as related investment.
Readiness of infrastructure
The development of EEC zone has several advantages that MICE industry can exploit. Firstly, MICE’s stakeholders can make use of a well-equipped infrastructure in EEC area. For instance, Nongnooch Pattaya International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICE), which can be used to hold conventions and exhibitions over 15,500 square meters, provides all kinds of facilities for all MICE activities and can support a large number of visitors up to 12,000 people. When compared to Singapore EXPO Convention and Exhibition Centre (Singapore EXPO), the largest convention and exhibition venue in Singapore with over 100,000 square meters of space, NICE still has a lot of development to catch up. However, the potential of NICE is much greater. If it combines other MICE-related services such as accommodation, cultural display, tropical garden, etc., it has a utility area over 2.72 million square meters which can be further expanded in the future.
Secondly, logistics in EEC area will be improved and results in the seamless transportation. It connects international travelers with U-Tapao airport in order to reduce the travel time from Suvarnabhumi airport to EEC area and connects domestic visitor with high-speed eastern rail route, motorways and ferry terminal. In addition, there is a construction of tram line which will facilitate visitors for traveling within the EEC area. Therefore, the comprehensive logistics, which can be compared with international standards, will be the main advantage for MICE industry.
Lastly, the tourist attractions in EEC offer a broad range of experiences including eco-tourism, art & science educational attraction, natural attraction, recreational attraction and cultural attraction. A lot of activities can be done such as sightseeing, sailing, golfing, shopping, etc. Moreover, Pattaya, the city in the EEC area, was ranked 18th in Master Card Global Destination Cities index in 2018 which proves its popularity for worldwide travelers. Thus, the competitiveness of tourism in EEC is not inferior to any other countries.
To sum up, a well-equipped infrastructure, seamless transportation and well-known tourist attractions are the advantages in EEC area that will power up MICE industry. Furthermore, EEC is still beginning its journey to become the leading destination, which means more developments and even better quality of life are going to enhance the quality of MICE activities.
EEC’s future development and MICE opportunities
Growing with new S-curve
With the desire to attract more investment through the EEC project, the government has put emphasis on the ten s-curve industries such as medical, digital, robotics and aviation which MICE plays a part in their development. As the industries expand, more opportunities for MICE arise.
Upcoming projects to boost MICE activities
EECO has announced a total of 425 projects in the 15-year development plan. 53 projects are for tourism and some of them was planned for providing benefits to MICE industry. For example, EECO together with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched the promotional program of business tourism under the slogan of “B-Leisure destination – Harmony of Business & Leisure”. The program aims to alter the image of tourism into the hybrid purposes of traveling between work and life by investing in the quality of tourism in the EEC area. The investment includes the upgrade of landscape in 17 tourist attractions, the construction of 6 new tourist attractions and the improvement in facilities such as direction sign, restroom and bicycle path. Other projects include Pattaya-on-Pier, the second biggest project in tourism industry. The project imitates a model of Pier 39 in San Francisco and will become a new man-made landmark in Pattaya. At Pattaya-on-Pier, there will be shops, pubs & bars, restaurants and water sport area. In addition, there is an area designated for holding events and festivals as well. Another project is an investment promotional project for upscale full-service hotel. It aims to improve average daily rate by attracting investment from 4- or 5-star hotels like Sheraton, Holiday Inn Express and Grande Centre Point to the EEC area. As a result, event organizers will have more choices for holding the meeting and event.