TCEB chief resigns, citing ‘existing problems’ in agency
Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) President, Akapol Sorasuchart, announced his resignation on Tuesday (March 6), saying he was leaving at the end of the month.
Thursday 15 March 2012, 03:57PM
He sent his resignation letter to the TCEB’s board on February 29, without giving a reason.
But during his tenure of two years and five months, his struggle to preserve the agency’s independence
in the face of political interference was widely reported in Thai media.
“There are existing problems that prompted me to resign. However, I want the agency to move ahead particularly with its bid to host World Expo 2020.”
“Early next year, officials from the Bureau of International Expositions will visit Thailand to check the
country’s readiness, particularly in terms of planning and infrastructure to host such a large event,” he explained.
Ayuthaya, the proposed site in Thailand, must compete with Izmir in Turkey, Yekaterinburg in Russia, Sao Paolo in Brazil and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
“My resignation should not have a major impact on the bid because it has already been put on the national agenda,” he said.
The official announcement on the winning venue will take place in June next year. Mr Akapol called on the Government and the Foreign Ministry to lobby the 158 members of the BIE.
He said he found it hard to work on the project. During his tenure, the agency was allocated a B100 million budget, but this was reduced by B20 million during last year’s flood crisis, before being scrapped altogether.
One of the BIE’s criteria is that the event must be accepted by local people. The B100 million budget was supposed
to raise awareness of the project among Thais so that they could get to know about the World Expo and the potential benefits of hosting it.
He also confirmed that the Formula 1 project was transferred to Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ Sports Authority of Thailand even though it was “my idea.”
“Actually, the project’s framework was completed by the bureau and is now at the discussion stage with Red Bull GmbH owner, Chalerm Yoovidhya, who is negotiating with the copyright holders.”
He said there was no firm decision on whether a B2 billion would be approved to bring the event to Thailand.
Mr Akapol claimed he was worried about TCEB’s independence and disagreed with the decision to place it under the supervision of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
Local newspapers conjectured that Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa would ask his daughter, Kanchana Silpa-archa, or his son, Warawut Silpa-archa, to take up the top TCEB post.
What effect all this manoeuvring will have on Phuket remains to be seen.
The TCEB announced earlier in the week that it would sell Phuket as a top MICE city to draw more event visitors this year.
The bureau estimated its latest campaign could supply around 35,000 visits by year end for the country’s events business.
Mr Akapol said negative economic factors in the United States and Eurozone pushed the bureau to concentrate on Asia and Oceania markets to balance the shortfall.
“Last year, Thailand’s MICE industry started to suffer from the economic downturn in Europe and the United
States, plus there were heavy floods that added to the industry’s woes.”
Eurozone markets are not producing travel bookings on the scale needed to maintain growth for Thailand’s travel industry. This was evident at the ITB this week where the business response was muted.
In the US, fuel surcharges and related taxes are increasing and the up-coming presidential elections are
dampening the mood to travel, along with a serious pinch in discretionary spending.
Mr Akapol added: “This year, our marketing activities will focus on conventions and incentive travel in short-haul markets such as South Asia, East Asia, and Oceania.”
In 2012, TCEB expects 35,000 MICE visitors from Oceania and generate B2,200 million compared to 33,000 visitors circulated B2,000 million in 2011.
To tap the Oceania market, the bureau will promote Phuket as a high-end MICE destination.
– TTR Weekly