The Thai Cabinet named Somsak Phurisrisak as the new tourism and sports minister, whose appointment was later endorsed by His Majesty the King on Tuesday.
The government’s selection came as no surprise. Mr Somsak was tipped as the top candidate to fill the vacant post after Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism and Sports Minister, Chumpol Silpa-archa, died 21 January.
Mr Somsak was the Suphan Buri governor until he retired, 30 September 2012, but worked closely with Chat Thai Pattana chief advisory, Banharn Silpa-archa.
However, the tourism sector will bemoan the fact that the new minister lacks experience and may require considerable time to grasp the big picture issues that demand his attention almost immediately.
He might take comfort from the simplistic demands of government that require him to deliver a tourism revenue of Bt2 trillion by 2015. Then the Cabinet will ask him not to ignore the need to establish Thailand as a tourism hub.
He may choose to ignore the voices of experts who are warning the government that a balance must be achieved to ensure tourism is in harmony with culture and heritage. As it stands today, tourism is a threat to national heritage and experts are calling on the government to support a sustainable version that would have less negative impact on the country’s social fabric.
Phuket, Pattaya and to a lesser degree Chiang Mai are the casualties of a tourism greed that has bull-dozed over community values and natural assets.
But creating balance, sustainability is far from the thoughts of even the Tourism Council of Thailand that breathes a sigh of relief over the status quo reflected in this appointment.
Commenting on political overtures, Tourism Council of Thailand president said: “Chat Thai Pattana Party continues to supervise the Ministry of Tourism and Sports as it has done for years and the new minister comes from that party so we are not expecting any changes in policy.”