Second thoughts on expo cost
BANGKOK, 12 February 2013: Prime Minister’s Office Minister, Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, says the government may abort its bid to host World Expo 2020 due to the heavy cost of infrastructure and fair buildings for what is a one-off event.
Mr Niwatthamrong said the government may consider aborting the bid as it is evident that if Thailand succeeds it will have to invest “tens of billions of baht” in new buildings and infrastructure.
Doubts over the viability of the investment surfaced in local media reports. It could ultimately have a negative impact on the assessment report that the World Expo inspection team will present if inspectors believe the commitment to invest is lacking at the top echelons of government.
He said the government was assessing the value of investing in the World Expo against the anticipated benefits and revenue.
“A research team from Kasetsart University had earlier estimated that the government would have to set aside a massive budget for the construction of new buildings and infrastructures linked to hosting the event in Ayutthaya,” he indicated.
There are critics who claim the project will waste valuable financial resources that should be going to more important projects that benefit the nation rather than just the tourism industry. Also some critics will claim that hosting the event in Pattaya or Phuket would have proved cheaper in infrastructure costs. They also have adequate hotel capacity to cater to overnight visitors that is lacking in Ayutthaya.
Thai Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Pongsak Assakul, said the private sector has asked the joint public-private sector committee whether it believes the country should continue with the project or not.
“If the committee decided to go ahead, the preparation must continue without any gap in order to demonstrate sincerity.”
The chairman expressed his disappointment that former Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau president Akapol Sorasuchart was not on-board claiming he had planned the project well but it has since stalled following his resignation.
“It would be difficult to continue the bid for the expo given the TCEB has yet to appoint a new president… Thongchai Sridama, the bureau’s acting president, lacks the full authority to push the project forward,” he said.
However, late last month TCEB confirmed it was fully committed to the project during the visit of the final Bureau of International Expositions Enquiry Mission in Ayutthaya.
Thailand’s proposed venue has to compete against Russia’s Ekateringburg, Brazil’s Sao Paolo, United Arab Emirates’ Dubai, and Turkey’s Izmir.
Thailand will present updates to the BIE in June before the final decision is announced in November in Paris this year.
BIE has currently over 157 members’ countries. Thailand joined the BIE as an official member in 1993.
The World Expo is regarded as the third most significant global event in terms of its economic and cultural impact after Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup.