Thawatchai Arunyik, deputy governor for domestic marketing at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, has been selected as the TAT’s next governor to replace Suraphon Svetasreni, whose contract with TAT will end on December 21.
The decision to appoint Thawatchai to the top post at the state enterprise will not come as a surprise to the tourism industry, as he had been seen as the favourite from the moment a successor to Suraphon was first considered.
He is believed to have strong connections with the Chart Pattana Party, led by veteran politician Banharn Silpa-Archa. The party has long controlled the Tourism and Sports Ministry, which looks after the TAT.
Pensuda Prai-aram, chairman of the TAT’s board of directors, said recently that Thawatchai was the most qualified person for the post.
His vision and ability would help move the TAT forward in the changing tourism industry, he added.
There were only two candidates for the governorship, the other being Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT’s deputy governor for international marketing for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
The candidates each had to present their vision for the authority to a five-member selection committee, chaired by Suwat Sidthilaw, permanent secretary of the Tourism and Sports Ministry.
Their confidence, leadership, crisis management and ability to cooperate with the private and government sectors were also considered.
Suwat said Thawatchai had won the race because he had convinced the panel of his leadership and strong confidence. He also proposed a practical plan for cooperating with other players in the tourism industry.
The State Enterprise Policy Office will now consider his salary and draw up a work contract.
If all goes to plan, Thawatchai – who has been with the TAT for 30 years – will take office on December 22, becoming its ninth governor.
His main challenge is to push for the generation of Bt2 trillion in tourism revenue in 2015, in line with the government’s stated goal.
As a TAT insider, he should be able to move quickly in implementing policy because he understands the authority’s culture and workforce well.
He will be evaluated every six months. However, as he is currently 57 years and 10 months old, he will not complete a full four-year term because he will have to retire at 60.
Suraphon, meanwhile, will continue at the TAT’s helm. His final evaluation takes place this month.