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.”
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.