The reshuffle of Thailand Government a week ago came as a surprise with the eviction of Thailand popular Minister of Tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul. She gave way to Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, a veteran of the tourism industry.
The reshuffle of the cabinet of General Prayut was done to bring more professionals into the government. But it was rather a surprise for the travel industry to learn that former Minister of Tourism Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul not being reconfirmed in her position. Named to the post just after the military coup of May 2014, Mrs. Wattanavrangkul has been a highly active personality, being present in any event dedicated to the promotion of tourism. She was also a passionate advocate of communities by telling that tourism was a way to bridge not only the wealth gap in the Thai society but also to bridge the understanding gap between Thai and the rest of the world.
Mrs. Wattanavrangkul showed many times her emotional feeling to her audience, bursting in tears when talking about the human values of tourism. In Thai culture, emotions are rarely -if not never- shown in public and this could maybe have put the government at unease sometimes.
Mrs. Wattanavrangkul will anyway leave an image of a truly dedicated personality to her portfolio.
Her successor is Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, a well known personality among the travel trade. He used already to be tourism and sports minister during the Somchai Wongsawat administration in 2008. he also occupied before the position of Vice Minister of Culture.
He was then chairman of the board of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and occupied the same position of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).
In a first interview, the new minister indicated that he wants to emphasize further tourism promotion to local communities, particularly to secondary destinations. has mapped out new focus areas for tourism aimed at expanding tourism and revenue into local communities.
“One of the very first jobs I will do is extend tourism from major tourist cities into local communities in order to generate income for people in villages,” said Mr Weerasak to Thai local newspapers.
The Minister indicated to work on the existing ‘Tourism Clinic’, an institution established for many years, which look at improving damaged attractions and reformulate strategies to attract more visitors.
“Tourism experts will be assigned to help local people develop unique products and resolve damaged tourism places,” he told. “These will be key tools for sustainable growth.”