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Wattanavrangkul takes up Thai tourism post

Wattanavrangkul takes up Thai tourism post

Thailand is seeking a return to normality in the tourism sector after months of disruption caused by political unrest.

A significant step has come with the appointment of Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul to the position of minister for tourism and sport earlier, with many Thais hoping she will be able to steady the ship.

The former chief of Toshiba Thailand will take up the post with immediate effect.

Wattanavrangkul is part of a new cabinet put in place by military prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, as the army seeks to end months of political turmoil and return stability to the country.

Following the appointment Wattanavrangkul said: “After months of protests and uncertainty, the country is now more stable and more committed than ever to promoting tourism and economic relations with friends around the world.”

Active in business, education, art and cultural circles, Wattanavrangkul is described as an award-winning businesswoman who has previously been linked with the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand.

While the martial law remains in place, it does not affect tourists or businesses.

Curfews have recently been lifted and Thailand is open for both tourism and business.

Wattanavrangkul added that new initiatives have been put in place to curb illegal activities which stifle tourism, like the clearing-out of stalls that block the scenic views on the beaches, and the stamping out of unlawful extortion and overcharging of tourists through cons such as jet ski rental scams.

However, statistics from the Thai ministry of tourism show the kingdom welcomed 11.8 million visitors in the first half of 2014, down 9.9 per cent decrease over the same period in 2013.