A former minister returns to Thai tourism

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BANGKOK: 27 November 2017:  Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, completed a major Cabinet reshuffle, 24 November, that saw Minister of Tourism and Sports, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, step down from the post after three years.

Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau chairman, Weersak Kowsuat, a former minister of tourism and sports in 2008 and chair of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, replaces Kobkarn.

Commenting on her Facebook page, Kobkarn described her ministerial term as “three valuable years to serve the nation, together with all government agencies, the private sector, especially the younger generation.”

She also posted a handwritten letter on her Facebook page outlining her efforts during her term to develop Thai tourism to meet the goals of quality and sustainability.

One of the highlights of her three-year term was welcoming the UNWTO World Tourism Day celebrations that were hosted in Bangkok, October 2016, when she chaired a conference on making tourism more friendly for disabled and mobility challenged travellers.

The latest reshuffle saw 10 new appointments, nine ministers retired and eight reassigned to new responsibilities.

Media and travel industry speculation in early November, suggested a Cabinet reshuffle was in the works. However, Kobkarn led a travel industry delegation to attend World Travel Market in London mid-November, and was busy fulfilling official duties up and during the weekend. She will continue to do so until the new ministers receive their official appointment papers from HM the King.

His Majesty the King endorsed the new cabinet line-up 23 November and the reshuffle was published in the Royal Gazette 24 November.

Weerasak Kowsurat, named the new tourism and sports minister, posted on his Facebook page thanks to all who had congratulated him. He is no stranger to tourism having served as Minister of Tourism and Sports in an earlier government in 2008.

The 50-year old is a graduate of Harvard Law School.  He has served as a member of parliament twice and held various ministerial roles including tourism, culture, social development and human security.

He also served as chairman of the Board of the Sports Authority of Thailand and chairman of the Board of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.  He is currently chairman of TCEB, a role he will now have to relinquish.

When he served as the country’s Minister of Tourism and Sports in 2008, he addressed PATA’s first CEO Challenge Summit hosted in Bangkok.

At that event he told delegates: “We have to recognise that tourism is both a contributor to green house gasses and vulnerable to the impact of climate change.”

That’s the challenge the new minister now faces 10 years later in tourism – how to prevent over use in tourism and how to develop business models that are sustainable in the long-term and balanced for destinations and also communities.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Thai Airways International reported 3.87 billion baht in net losses for the first nine months this year, widening from 1.47 billion baht in losses in the year-ago period.

    Bangkok Airways posted a net loss of 143 million baht for the first nine months, compared with 2.08 billion baht in net profit a year earlier.

    Asia Aviation, the holding firm of low-cost carrier Thai AirAsia, made a 1-billion-baht profit, down 45% from the first nine months of 2016.

    Nok Air narrowed its loss to 1.62 billion baht in the period, down from 2.11 billion baht previously.

  2. Flights fall short of 2017 target, says the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai).

    Think about that Mr Ross

      • Ministers come and go, it’s in the job description. It’s the permanent secretary who stays on through thick and thin. The former minister came to the job with no experience. She made mistakes for sure, but her contribution in three years surpassed the efforts of many former ministers. Give credit where it is due. And why slang someone who was definitely sincere, worked hard and made a difference. On the point of whether she did a good job or not, there are hundreds of positive comments on the former minister’s Facebook to suggest she was appreciated by many people in the tourism industry. She was also one of the few ministers of tourism who could converse in excellent English and respond to even the most difficult questions raised by the international press at major shows such as ITB Berlin and WTM London. She set a high work ethic benchmark. It will remain to be seen if Khun Weerasak can match that performance and reach out to all sectors of the travel industry, rather than just keep in touch with a favoured few who tell him what he would like to hear.

  3. One dinosaur out One dinosaur in. Expect the same old campaigns with new names. Same old “Amazing Thailand” slogan, and same old inflated tourist and revenue numbers.

  4. He must reform the system of tourism management, work on different tourism dimensions not only concentrate on TAT’s work that concentrates on luring more tourist numbers both domestic and international. Tourism work must be done across the full system of management. Cooperation and gaining full support from all other Ministries and every stakeholders concerned must be achieved to move Thai tourism success forward in a sustainable and responsible manner.

    • I am not sure why so many people are pre-occupied with the minister’s tears. There is definitely a need for tears over the state of Thai tourism, not because it is failing, but because it is too successful. Over-tourism is here. Perhaps that is what the minister saw, hence the tears. An industry that is greedy and often dishonest and exploits natural assets and communities is a subject that should prompt tears. The new minister, or old one back with us, will have to decide what path to take. The easy way is to leave matters well alone. It will take a strong minister indeed to tell the travel industry it is time to apply the brakes to stop “over tourism”. If he does he will discover he has few friends in an industry bent on profit whatever the cost, survival whatever it takes.

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