Operators ponder elected governors
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Operators ponder elected governors

Tourists visit Yaowarat area last month. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Tourists visit Yaowarat area last month. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Tourism operators have mixed views on increasingly louder calls for elected provincial governors to replace appointed heads.

During the general election last year, several political parties such as Pheu Thai pledged to grant locals the right to choose their own governors, as is the case with Bangkok and Pattaya.

The Pheu Thai-led coalition government introduced a CEO-governor model during its policy announcement, aiming to grant all provincial governors authority broadly equivalent to that of a company chief executive.

Calls for elected governors amplified on social media last week, led by communities in Chiang Mai that are angry with the performance of appointed governors in dealing with the hazardous level of smog in the North.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said provincial governors in many provinces should play a greater role in developing local economies, particularly local tourism, as well as tackling problems regarding tourist safety, which remains an obstacle for key destinations such as Phuket.

He said the rancour in Chiang Mai is causing people to think about choosing their own governors.

Appointed governors are assigned by the central government and must frequently rotate to other provinces, leading to inconsistent policies and stunted development, said Mr Sisdivachr.

"I agree with locals who want provincial governors to be elected. Many problems in the provinces are serious and require more active governors," he said.

"Elected governors won't be afraid to get their hands dirty if they know constituents gave them the authority, unlike appointed governors who still have to consider their career path."

La-iad Bungsrithong, board advisor for the Thai Hotels Association's northern chapter, said appointed governors can still play a critical role in the provinces, directly connecting with the national government and balancing the local administrative power of the municipal mayor and the president of the provincial administrative organisation (PAO) -- two positions that are elected by local citizens.

She said if the provinces are allowed to elect their own governors, some provinces might not have appropriate local candidates who know the strengths and weaknesses of their areas.

"Strong connections with the central government are necessary for the provinces," said Mrs La-iad.

"As we already have elected municipal mayors and PAO presidents, it might be better to have one appointed governor who can directly connect with the central administration."

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