PHUKET: The first of more than 15,000 delegates from Amway China arrived on Phuket today to be greeted by Thai dancers and VIPs. The series of Phuket incentive seminars is expected to pump 2.5 billion baht into the local economy.
Virtually every day until May 16 a similar sized group will arrive as Phuket hosts the largest rewards event of its kind so far.
It's the first time Amway China has chosen a resort-style destination rather than big international cities to host its annual event.
Among those greeting the first charter flight to arrive on Phuket today were Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosutthirak, Phuket Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Bangornrat Shinaprayoon, and the General Manager of Phuket International Airport, Wing Commander Prathuang Somkhom.
Khun Bangornrat said that with shopping, food and travel plus trips and tours available to Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, the revenue from the event was likely to be spread throughout the Andaman provinces.
Travelling with the first group today was Amway China Vice President Martin Liu, who said Amway was the largest direct-sales organisation in the world.
Delegates to the Phuket event come from seven regional groups throughout China and Hong Kong, varying in size from 1800 to 5000 personnel. Winners at a Shanghai awards ceremony chose Phuket as the destination for the 2012 incentives event.
Most of the delegates and staff will be staying at resorts within the Laguna Phuket complex at Bang Tao beach with others at Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort south of Patong and the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa at Karon.
Each group of delegates will rotate through five-day stays on Phuket, participating in business sessions, grand dinners and tours. A total of 21 grand buffet dinners for up to 1000 guests have been organised for the Laguna Phuket events marquee.
Some days as many as 80 mini-vans are expected to take to Phuket's roads to carry delegates to and from speedboat departure points for trips to Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and other sight-seeing destinations.
Chinese chefs have been brought in especially for the duration of the conference, along with hundreds of Mandarin-speaking students to assist Phuket resort staff.
Inquiries for smaller Phuket events from businesses in China are reported to have already increased. Good reports about Phuket from returning delegates are likely to accellerate the number of Chinese visiting the holiday island in future.
Planning for the Phuket event began two years ago. Staff from Laguna Phuket have been heavily involved with Amway's own full-time team of events organisers in making the 2012 gathering a success.