The Kingdom of Lan Na, which covers much of northern Thailand, was a thriving state long before the rise of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.
Chiang Mai can trace its history back more than 700 years, making it one of the most historic cities in Thailand. The city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River.
Chiang Mai means “New City” and was so named because it became the new capital of Lan Na when it was founded in 1296. And more than 700 years later, Chiang Mai continues to recreate itself with an array of new ideas, unique cultural assets and modern facilities to welcome travelers to what UNESCO described as one of the “25 Best Destinations in the World”.
To highlight the beauty and uniqueness of Chiang Mai during this time of the year, the Thailand Convention and Visitors Bureau (TCEB) joined forces with Chiang Mai province and its private sector to showcase ‘MICE Events in the Rain’, promoting the beauty of Chiang Mai during Thailand’s rainy season.
Mr. Chiruit Isarangun Na Ayuthaya, TCEB President, said the TCEB is using Chiang Mai’s status as one of Thailand’s five designated MICE cities to attract more business to northern Thailand. “TCEB’s efforts to promote Chiang Mai alongside the city’s public and private sector partners, are paying off. The number of ICCA endorsed international conferences hosted in Chiang Mai has risen sharply, following the opening of the Ciang Mai Convention and Exhibition Center in 2013. From a mere 10 events in 2013, to 21 events in 2017, and 25 events in 2018, this represents over 250% growth in five years”, Mr. Chiruit said.
In 2018, Thailand hosted 193 ICAA endorsed international events, which included 25 events in Chiang Mai – a 12.9% share. Chiang Mai’s ICCA 2018 ranking climbed to 25th place in Asia, and 110th globally. This places Chiang Mai 7th in ASEAN rankings for conventions in 2018. And with the confirmation of Chiang Mai being the host city for Routes Asia 2020 for 1,000 international and 500 local delegates; the Association of Women’s Rights in Development Forum 2020 for 2,000 international and 200 local delegates; and the 14th Meeting of Asian Society of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia (ASCA 2021) for 400 international delegates and 600 local delegates, Chiang Mai will continue to be one of Thailand’s rising MICE stars.
“TCEB is showcasing MICE Events in the Rain in our role as partner and collaborator which allow the flexibility to orchestrate ideas and programs to encourage MICE groups to visit Chiang Mai during the Green Season” said Mr. Chiruit. “The city’s variety of resources combining modern facilities with creative ideas and Chiang Mai’s unique culture can redefine MICE traveler’s business experiences” Mr. Chiruit continued.
Another major player in developing Chiang Mai’s growing MICE market is Mrs. La-iad Bungsrithong. President of the Thai Hotels Association (Northern Chapter). “Chiang Mai is home to several of TCEB-endorsed Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TVMS), including 57 meeting rooms of 16 venues, one special venue and one exhibition hall. In addition, the city offers a wide range of venues, ranging from hotels and meeting facilities complete with state of the art technology to creative venues and a diverse range of activities and attractions that can redefine the business experience, pre and post-events” stated Mrs. La-iad.
Moving forward, TCEB will continue to partner and collaborate with Chiang Mai Province under the “Thailand 7 MICE Magnificent Themes” project to develop more new MICE routes to give local partners unique selling points that appeal to international MICE travelers. A perfect example of this is the Lanna Expo 2019, taking place at the Chiang Mai Convention and Exhibition Center from 28 June to 7 July. Not only does the Lanna Expo add an important revenue stream to the northern region’s economy, it strengthens the city’s position as a platform to promote local arts, crafts and culture.
Continuously organized since 2014, the Lanna Expo drew more than 500,000 participants in 2018, and contributed more than 91.40 million THB to the local economy. 2019 is on schedule to top those numbers.
TCEB has made developing the local economy one of its top priorities. The Huai Hong Khrai Royall Development Study Center was established under the royal initiative of the late King Rama IX. This initiative integrates fisheries, farming livestock, diary and industrial agriculture as a means to preserve the local environment. Supporting an organic lifestyle, TCEB also promotes the Mae Taeng Co-Operative, a place where you can learn DIY activities whether composting pig manure, making animal feeds in sustainable ways to help communities reduce waste through various recycling activities.
Whether it’s the Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park, a national park abundant with well-preserved natural resources and wildlife, or the Baan Tawai village, a community renowned for wood carvings for over 100 years, TCEB is dedicated to the growth and development of Thailand’s local economy.
When King Rama VII and Queen Rambaibani rode into Chiang Mai at the head of an 84-elephant caravan and 1927, becoming the first central Thai monarchs to visit the north, Chiang Mai was on its way to becoming one of Thailand’s premiere tourist destinations. By the mid-1960’s tourism replaced commercial trade as Chiang Mai’s number one source of outside revenue. Today, that tradition continues for one on Southeast Asia’s most beautiful MICE destinations.
Chiang Mai locals will be the first to agree, they have many reasons to be singing in the rain.
by Matt Thomas