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page 36 Conference+Meetings WorldFebruary 2011CITY FOCUSpopular among international travellers,Pattaya is now ready to be the first 'MICECity' of Thailand," he adds. Money is also being pumped into U-TapaoPattaya International Airport to furtherenhance the area and support tourismexpansion along the eastern seaboard. Theairport has gained a budget of BT900m toconstruct a new passenger terminal,parking areas and a new air traffic radarsystem. The planned expansion is expectedto draw more regular international flights.Work is scheduled to begin this year andwill be completed in 2013. Winning the bid to host the 2007International Congress and ConventionAssociation's (ICCA) Congress, against stiffcompetition from Singapore and KualaLumpur, was a big step toward rebrandingPattaya to the MICE market. The eventbroke the previous year's attendance figureand attracted 818 delegates from 64countries worldwide to the Pattaya Exhibitionand Convention Hall (PEACH) and RoyalCliff Beach Resort complex.PEACH's Manager of PR and MarketingCommunications Elizabeth Dass-Brown says:"The ICCA Congress undoubtedly broughtPEACH and the Royal Cliff Hotels Groupwell-deserved worldwide recognition ofMICE professionals, and as a result, we sawan increasing number of enquiries. "Since 2007 our venue has been home tomany international, regional and nationwidepolitical summits, economic forums andcorporate events, including the heads ofstates' meetings in 2009. There hasdefinitely been an encouraging growth inthe MICE business for PEACH since 2007,and we look forward to more of the same."The venue, which has 7,000sqm of pillar-less hall space and a capacity to host small-sized gatherings of 10 persons toconventions for up to 8,000 people, says itworks closely with the local government inmany areas, including changing theperception of the city. "While Pattaya mighthave a mixed perception due to its past,which is far from the reality of today'spicture, it is seeing a rapid growth ofdevelopments focused on attracting nichemarket segments that will result in beingbetter perceived by event organisers," says Dass-Brown.Hilton Hotels and Resorts clearly seespotential in Pattaya with the opening of thenew Hilton Pattaya hotel at the end of lastyear. The 302-room new-build is based onPattaya beach. It also boasts a 635sqmballroom and four individual meeting roomsincluding a dedicated boardroom. "We seeenormous potential for growth in the Thaimarket, in particular Pattaya, which hastraditionally and consistently been a choicedestination for business travellers," saysHilton Worldwide Asia Pacific PresidentMartin Rinck.Hilton Pattaya's GM Harald Feursteinadds: "Pattaya caters to those travelling forbusiness or leisure. We are confident withthe opening of Hilton Pattaya this resorttown will continue to grow as a dynamictourism hub for all travellers."The recognition the World Expo couldbring to the city, if the bid is won, is huge.Last year's World Expo in Shanghaiattracted 73m international visitors and22,900 fringe events were held. Theoutcome is far from certain, as Thailand willneed to compete with nine other countriesand an array of 15 cities that have declaredsimilar intentions to the World Expoorganisers. They are: Philippines-Manila;Australia-Brisbane; Denmark-Copenhagen;the UAE-Dubai; Brazil-Rio De Janeiro andSao Paolo; Canada-Montreal; the UnitedStates-San Francisco, New York, Houston,Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Atlanta;China-Guangzhou; and South Africa. The Shanghai Expo, the first of its kind tobe staged in a developing country, gave thepeople of China an opportunity to learnfrom the experiences and expertise of othernations: "A one-day Expo visit outweighs 10years of reading," Chinese Premier WenJiabao said as he closed the event.Hilton Hotels' new 302 room hotel in Pattaya'Pattaya is seeing a rapidgrowth of developments.'Ladyboy shows are part of Thailand's culture

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