On March 31, 2009, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Pornsiri Manoharn left her job as she reached retirement age. Since then, TAT has been struggling to replace her and to find the right person to head the State tourism agency. Internal battles within TAT, political games delayed by over over a year the nomination of a new head, despite the fact that Thailand tourism was facing one of its most difficult years consequent to the world recession and political instability in the Kingdom.
But this is already history. Last November however, a screening committee chaired by Mrs Sasithara Pichaicharnnarong, the powerful Permanent Secretary of the Tourism and Sports Ministry – she is often dubbed by the trade as the “true” Minister of Tourism- found TAT Deputy Governor Surapol Svetasreni the most suitable candidate to fill up the Governor’s post. M. Surapol is currently head of marketing communication. Among future developments, the outgoing Deputy Governor wants to use more social media network and digital marketing to promote Thailand to new generations of consumers. The TAT board approved earlier this week Surapol Svetasreni’s nomination. The new Governor is expected to sign his contract by early next week and start to work from January 1st, 2010.
His nomination came at a time of marked recovery for Thailand tourism. According to latest figures released at the beginning of the week, Thailand year-on-year foreign arrivals grew by 24.91% in November compared to the same month of 2008. Forecasts show that another 1.4 to 1.5 million international travellers are expected in December which would put total arrivals for 2009 at 14 to 14.1 million, down by only 3.5% over the year 2008 (14.6 million). Previous estimations pointed out to less than 14 million international arrivals for the whole year 2009.