Soft power strategy: Thailand targets 11 sectors with a focus on Muay Thai

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Thailand’s National Soft Power Strategy Committee, established in September following the Cabinet formation, has recently identified 11 key sectors for soft power implementation. The Committee intends to action the Thailand Creative Content Agency (THACCA) Act, which will facilitate a unified agency to dictate policies across these sectors.

The sectors in question span a broad range of creative industries: fashion, books, film and drama series, festivals, food, design, tourism, gaming, music, art, and sport. A particular focus will be on the sport of Muay Thai, with the private industry anticipating comprehensive guidance to bolster the global competitiveness of martial arts.

As a national sport, Muay Thai is unique, being the sole sport that includes the country of origin in its name, says Pimol Srivikorn, President of the Taekwondo Association of Thailand and sports head for the committee. As evidence of Muay Thai’s global appeal, he cited the existence of over 30,000 Muay Thai gyms and 10,000 boxing camps worldwide during a recent Government House committee meeting.

Muay Thai contributes more than 40 billion baht annually to the economy, including 18 billion from international participants in Muay Thai classes. The sport’s influence is also visible in the fashion industry, with Muay Thai shorts serving as significant export items.

The international popularity of Muay Thai is further demonstrated by the ONE Championship, a renowned Muay Thai competition broadcast in 190 countries, reaching a staggering 400 million viewers.

However, despite the booming demand, the industry is grappling with a scarcity of high-quality professional trainers, says Sutthinun Ritthiboriluck, owner of Khun Suek Muay Thai gym in Krabi and founder of the Muay Thai booking platform Now Muay Thai. The official Kru Muay Thai curriculum, overseen by the Sports Authority of Thailand, graduates only approximately 60 trainers per licence type annually, across three licence types.

Licencing issue

In addition to this, there is no system in place to monitor trainers post-graduation or pair them with training camps. The existence of the licence is not even widely known among Thais. Sutthinun has urged the government to initiate an intense promotional campaign to support the sport and its trainers.

In response to the growing interest among amateurs, Sutthinun believes the industry should expand opportunities and organise smaller leagues and events to foster new influencers in the sport. Aiming to broaden exposure for the industry, his platform Now Muay Thai will feature content and class information, with the option for students to rate and review classes.

Sutthinun is also developing an open database, the Muay Thai Dataverse, which will compile registered data for boxers, managers, trainers, and stadium operators for future reference.

According to Pimol, within the next six months, there should be a series of Muay Thai competitions, accompanied by intensive online and offline promotions. By next year, a World Muay Thai Institute should be established to regulate standards and monitor results, similar to South Korea’s operation of Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Headquarters, reported Bangkok Post.

“The industry requires adequate budget allocation from the government, coupled with inter-ministerial collaboration.”

He further suggested that the Labour Ministry should issue certificates for boxers and trainers, and then guide them to teach overseas. He also stated that the Culture Ministry and the Tourism and Sports Ministry should be responsible for promoting soft power.

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Bangkok NewsBusiness NewsCentral Thailand News

Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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