"The industry is getting competitive," says Pojai Pookakupt, board member of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, who co-organised this six-month degree programme.
"At present Thailand, has to compete with neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. So, developing our human resources is a must. It's necessary to give local MICE people more knowledge and make them even smarter."
Germany's Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, or UFI, has written the curriculum for the 150-hour programme. The course will be divided into two main sessions - 90 hours of lectures in Bangkok and 60 hours of online study in participants' home countries.
"We've spent years developing the course," says Vincent Gerard, UFI's managing director. "It's one of our policies to support education in the exhibition industry. We're also looking for partners. Originally, we thought of introducing our first course in China, making it our regional hub, but Thailand was quicker."
Courses will be taught by twenty instructors from various universities, including University of Cooperative Education in Ravensburg, Germany; University of Westminster in London; Fontys University for Applied Sciences in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and Bocconi University in Italy along with exhibition industry experts.
"UFI is like a godfather in the exhibition industry," says Kamolnai Chaixanien, executive vice-president for operations at NCC Management & Development. "It's such a great advantage to learn from the godfather and adapt this knowledge to our businesses."
The course covers a wide variety of topics, including project administration, business strategic development, risk management, human resource management and expenditure controls, and costs between Bt170,000 and Bt200,000.
"There has been no formal training on offer in the business before," says Kanathorn Nguansamang, assistant managing director of XCON. "People learned from experience, so we had no guidelines for sharing this knowledge with others.
"But now we know, and even though the course doesn't fit Thailand a hundred per cent, there's still a lot of things we can apply."
Thirty-three participants from 11 countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Oman, recently flew to Bangkok for their graduation ceremony. Fifteen of the graduating students were Thai.
"I'm really enjoying these classes," says Joerg Beier, a lecturer from University of Cooperative Education. "We are all working in the same industry. It's a good chance for students from different cultures to come and discuss the topics."
The Exhibition Management Degree programme is a co-operation between the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry in Germany and Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau in Bangkok.
For details on the next course, log on to www.tceb.or.th.
By Suwicha Chanitnun