Bitec to invest billions to expand event space
Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Center (bitec) is set to invest billions of baht to expand its trade exhibition space by between 70,000 and 100,000 square metres to meet expected rising demand after the opening of Suvarnbhumi Airport and the future expansion of the skytrain system to the east.
“The blueprint [of the expansion plan] has already been drawn. What we are waiting for is just an opportune time and stable politics, probably simultaneously with the construction of the skytrain extension from Onnuj to Samrong, or after the completion of the skytrain extension,” said Sarnit Karunyavanij, Bitec’s business development director.
According to Mr Sarnit, Bitec boasts the nearest facility for Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) to the country’s new airport.
Since it sits about halfway between Suvarnabhumi and Bangkok’s city centre, executives say it’s the most accessible venue for large international events.
The airport is 14 km away from Bitec, and the city hub is 12 km away. They are linked directly by the expressway.
The skytrain, a mass transit rail system, is about four kilometres away and is accessible by shuttle busses. By early 2009, the skytrain will be expanded right to the gates of Bitec, Mr Sarnit said.
Opened in 1997, Bitec spans 68 acres, or 270,000 square metres. About 36,000 square metres of that is column-free space, and the total exhibit area of 50,4000 square metres id used for exhibitions, conferences, meetings, product launches, banquets and other special events.
According to Mr Sarnit, Bitec is set to invest more than 23 million baht this year to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
The money will be spent advertising in both local and international media, renovating existing restaurants and food outlets, and adding food stalls, minimarts and coffee corners to accommodate more guests.
The advertising budget alone was estimated at more than 10 million baht, a rise from the average of 7.5 million baht spent in past years.
“Consumer-related trade events increased dramatically in 2006, drawing a large number of consumers particularly among new residents at housing projects developed at the surrounding area of Bitec,” said Mr Sarnit. “For instance, the Bangkok International Motor show is visited by about 1.5 million people every year in a period of 10 days.”
Bitec is designed to accommodate up to 14,000 delegates for conventions and between 100,000 and 150,000 visitors per day for exhibitions.
According to Mr Sarnit, Bitec’s business in 2006 remained in good shape, with revenue growing 20% from last year, out performing the market, which is expected to grow about 15%.
Thailand’s trade exhibitions and conferences market is estimated at 10 billion baht, but the Mice market is enormous. The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) projects income from Mice to 100 billion baht, or 10% of total annual tourism revenue, within three years, from at least 50 billion baht this year.
According to Mr Sarnit, the market’s outlook for this year is bright, given that Thailand is a production hub of several key industries, including automobiles, gems and jewellery, electronics and electrical appliances and food.
“In the very near future, Bitec will be surrounded and supported by nearby transport infrastructure, be it the international airport, ports, the skytrain, and expressway. That will offer us a competitive edge in attracting international trade organizers.”