Somsak Pureesrisak, the new tourism and sports minister, has officially assumed his position, announcing that tourist safety will take priority under his watch.
Somsak Pureesrisak makes merit just before starting his first day on the job as the new tourism and sports minister. CHANAT KATANYU
"If Thailand is not a safe destination in the eyes of foreign tourists, it would be useless to invest many hundreds of billions of baht to boost Thai tourism," he told a group of reporters yesterday.
"So I will seriously focus on this point. This will bring sustainable tourism growth to Thailand and drive tourism revenue to meet the 2-trillion-baht target by 2015."
Before serving as tourism and sports minister, Mr Somsak was deputy governor of Suphan Buri and Ang Thong provinces from 2002-06 and governor of Suphan Buri from 2006-12.
He expressed confidence that he can work smoothly with related state agencies such as the Royal Thai Police.
"The state should increase punishment against those who commit crimes such as robbery and assault against tourists," said Mr Somsak.
"I will adopt safety measures similar to those used in Japan, a country that rarely has criminal complaints from tourists."
Moreover, he has instructed staff to maintain a balance between tourism and sports affairs.
In the past, the ministry focused more on sports than tourism, as most personnel came from a sports-related background. The various departments lacked a spirit of teamwork.
Mr Somsak said this issue will be resolved, and the ministry will be a coordinating hub for related organisations.
One of the new minister's first acts in office was to solicit ideas for promoting tourism growth. Proposals should keep in mind the changing tourism environment, and concerned parties are asked to submit ideas by next Wednesday.
Mr Somsak, 62, obtained a master's degree in public administration from the National Institute of Development Administration.
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- Writer: Chadamas Chinmaneevong