BANGKOK, February 15, 2008 — H.E. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, the new Thai Minister of Tourism and Sports paid his first visit to the offices of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) this morning for discussions about the future directions of Thai tourism.He was welcomed by TAT Governor Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn who gave him a detailed briefing of the TAT’s various projects, programmes and activities worldwide.

H.E. Mr. Weerasak complimented the TAT executives for their professionalism and said he was very impressed with their promotion and marketing of an industry that has become one of Thailand’s most important foreign exchange earners and job creators. He also took the opportunity to identify some key areas where the new government could play a role in order to address outstanding issues and challenges including the importance of strengthening the Thai brand image.

He also took the opportunity to brief TAT on the priorities of the new Royal Thai Government with regard to tourism, as the Minister has a strong understanding of the industry itself and identified some key areas where the new government could play a role in order to address outstanding issues and challenges including the importance of strengthening the Thai brand image.

He also agreed for the need to focus more on generating high spending visitors rather than mass volume traffic, but also noted that projections of visitor arrivals and foreign exchange earnings should be regarded more as “hopes” and “expectations” rather than compulsory targets.

The Minister also mentioned the importance of the need of the public and private sectors to work together on the basis of mutual trust and respect along the principles of good governance and transparency, with a strong level of public accountability. Furthermore, they should clarify various issues such as convenience, hygiene, and safety and needs of tourists, which will all help to encourage more people to travel.

He said that a strong and efficient travel and tourism industry would benefit everyone and allow all the stakeholders to get their fair share of the resulting business. This would be further enhanced by conducting an inventory of Thailand’s tourism products and destinations with a SWOT analysis carried out to identify each of their strengths and weaknesses. The selected products will be classified into five “classes” — cluster, provincial, national, regional class and world class.

The Minister supported the continued promotion of Thailand as a film-making destination, noting the positive and long-lasting visual impact of documentaries, advertising clips and feature films, as well as, stressed the importance of small and medium sized enterprises and called for more efforts to promote investments in travel and tourism, noting that it is not just visitors that the country must attract but those involved in the cinema industry and investors, too.

Although he made it clear that at the moment TAT executives were being provided with a sense of direction, the official policy would follow after being endorsed and approved by the Thai cabinet.

Mrs Phornsiri said, “The Minister is said to be one of the youngest members of the Thai cabinet, and because of his legal background, has a very clear and precise sense of direction about what needs to be done, how and over what timeframe. As such we all welcome that and are all very proud to have a young and dynamic Minister at our helm. He can certainly count on our continued support and commitment in helping him and the newly-elected Royal Thai Government fulfill their electoral promises and responsibilities”.

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