On August 15, 1910, Rotary founder Paul Harris convened the first National Convention of the Rotary Clubs of America.
“This is going to be a convention in which we will get down to business and endeavor to launch the National Association of Rotary Clubs. We need the best thought and cooperation of every single man who is here,” Harris told the 60 registrants assembled at the Congress Hotel in Chicago.
Bhichai Rattakul, Rotary International President (2002-03) “This is a proud year for Thailand”.
At the time of the 1910 Convention, Rotary had 16 clubs and more than 1,000 members. By 2005, however, membership grew so much that more than 39,000 people attended the RI Convention in Chicago to celebrate Rotary’s centennial.
Rotary is a global humanitarian organization with more than 1.2 million members in 32,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service.
Rotary has held conventions throughout the world - including Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1921; Mexico City in 1953; Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1957; and Tokyo in 1978. These yearly meetings combine Rotary business with fellowship and feature guest speakers, workshops, meetings, and exhibits.
This year not only Rotarians but every Thai can be proud of the fact that we are hosting the 103rd edition of this international gathering of like-minded people from all over the world who abide by the principles of ‘Service above Self’.
PRIP Bhichai Rattakul together with Past Rotary International Director Noraseth Pathmanand and Akapol Sorasuchart, President of TCEB pose for a photo with convention mascots Nong Yim and Nong Yam - large and small.
The Bangkok Convention 2012, as the event is affectionately called, will be held at the Impact Arena, Exhibition and Convention Center, Muang Thong Thani May 6-9, 2012.
This year’s Convention is expected to break the previous attendance record, with the largest number of preregistered participants in the history of the Rotary Convention. The expected draw of over 3 billion baht in revenues will help contribute to the country’s tourism and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) industries.
Past Rotary International Director Noraseth Pathmanand (left) and Akapol Sorasuchart (right), President of TCEB, champions of the 2012 Bangkok Convention.
At the press conference held on February 2 at the Centara Grand Convention Centre Bangkok, Past Rotary International President Bhichai Rattakul said, “We have waited 83 years for this dream to become a reality. Rotary first came to Thailand with the chartering of the Rotary Club of Bangkok on September 17, 1930 with H.R.H. Prince Purachatra serving as the Charter President. The founders of the first club could not have imagined that one day we would be hosting such a major International Rotary convention.”
Bhichai Rattakul, the first and only Thai national to serve as Rotary International President (2002-03), and now chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Host Organization Committee of 2012 Rotary International Convention continued, “The Thai people are very proud that our country was chosen as host of the 2012 Rotary International Convention. The Bangkok Convention will be one of the biggest and grandest conventions ever.”
Past District Governor Gen. Saiyud Kerdpol stops to taste the delicious Thai sweets on display.
Past Rotary International Director, Noraseth Pathamanand, chairman of the Host Organization Committee of 2012 Rotary International Convention said, “This year’s concept is to create happiness through smiles, and therefore we have chosen ‘The Land of a Thousand Smiles’ as our slogan, symbolizing the Thai culture of always extending goodwill to those who come to visit. The mascots of the convention are Nong Yim and Nong Yam, a Thai boy and a Thai girl in traditional Thai dress, who will act as ambassadors in welcoming over 38,000 Rotarians and their families from all over the world.”
PRID Noraseth went on to say that, “We have invited several world-renowned keynote speakers to highlight our convention. Included in the list of luminaries are Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Prize winner in 2006, Hugh Evans, CEO of the Global Poverty Project, and Amanda Martin of the Global Health Access Program.”
PRID Noraseth added, “The convention is primarily supported by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), who are co-hosts of this year’s convention together with Rotary. TCEB has and will continue to play an important role in cooperation with Thai Rotary. Their joint efforts in 2005 were instrumental in securing the rights to hold the convention in Thailand. TCEB is committed to providing continual support in cash and kind during the preparation period and during the convention.
“The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has also pledged support and cooperation to ensure the success of this world event. The TAT will oversee accommodation and travel arrangements for the multitude of participants from all over the world. It is a known fact that tens of thousands of participants will travel to Thailand before the convention to visit the different regions of our beautiful country and just as many will stay on for the post-convention tours.”
PDG Noraseth acknowledged with gratitude that “The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has also lent its unreserved support to this convention by assisting in the decorations of the capital city and ensuring that cleanliness and order are maintained throughout the period. The BMA has also planned various cultural activities for the recreation of our foreign visitors.”
Akapol Sorasuchart, President of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) and co-host, stated that, “The 2012 Rotary International Convention is a very important event for Thailand as it is a strong indication of cooperation between the government and private sectors in order to develop the MICE industries. We received the latest news from Rotary International during their International Assembly in San Diego that as of January 19, 2012, there were over 28,000 pre-registrations. I am confident that by the end of April we will have more than 38,000 participants. The convention will also help promote MICE industrial growth in the year 2012, with an estimated 750,000 participants generating over 60,120 million baht in the country.
The success of this convention will also help to present Thailand in a better light and boost our campaign for both Thais and foreigners alike to “Believe in Thailand.”
A taste of things to come. Visitors will be awed by exhibitions of exotic Thai fruits, flower arrangements not to mention the passion of Thai cuisine.