In a move that will facilitate cross-border employment of MICE professionals, the teaching and training of MICE, and growth in ASEAN’s MICE workforce, the Thai cabinet has approved an amendment to the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement of Tourism Professionals (ASEAN MRA-TP) that will benefit two more categories of workers – MICE professionals and event professionals. When the agreement was originally signed by ASEAN Tourism Ministers in 2012, the ASEAN MRA-TP covers only workers in two tourism categories – travel services and hotel services.
Mr. Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, President, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (Public Organization) or TCEB, said, “From 8 May 2013, the ASEAN MRA-TP required ASEAN member countries to implement action plans that will lead to the mutual recognition of tourism qualifications. Without the MRA-TP, a tourism professional’s qualification is recognised only in his home country. With the MRA-TP, the qualification will be recognised by all ASEAN countries. The expanded agreement aims to boost the employment opportunities for qualified MICE professionals, enhance and harmonise the quality of MICE education, and to grow the region’s MICE workforce. During its first 10 years, the agreement focused on travel and hotel services. Now, it will expand to also cover MICE and events. At the 23rd Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers in Brunei on 15 January 2020, ASEAN Tourism Ministers approved the protocol to amend the ASEAN MRA-TP on an ad referendum basis.”
The signing of the protocol by individual countries was delayed from its original timeframe set in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns in member countries and the delayed delivery of the agreement document. To date, the ad referendum has been signed by seven countries: Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Brunei.
To translate the expanded agreement into action, every ASEAN member country will be required to follow a common competency standard. Thailand and Indonesia have been tasked with the development of the competency standards for MICE – Thailand in events and incentive travel, and Indonesia, in conventions and exhibitions. This will take place over the next three years.
Thai agencies involving in the implementation of the agreement are the Department of Tourism, which will act as the chief liaison, and TCEB, Thailand’s lead agency for MICE, which will oversee the training of event professionals. The Department of Tourism will nominate TCEB to become a member of National Tourism Professionals Board (NTPB) so that the certification of tourism professionals can include both MICE and event professionals in the future.
“A vital economic driver for many countries, MICE has a bright future in ASEAN. TCEB believes that the liberalisation of trade and services and the improved mobility of qualified MICE professionals will benefit the region’s event organisations and the industry as a whole. To enable a MICE professional to find successful employment throughout the region, we must start with a common standard and mutual recognition of qualifications. With close cooperation among member countries, I hope we can transform ASEAN into a world’s leading destination for MICE by embracing the expanded ASEAN MRA-TP.”