Tourism sector divided over elected versus appointed governors

Picture courtesy of Evan Krause, Unsplash

The debate over elected provincial governors versus appointed heads is intensifying, revealing a divide among tourism operators. This issue gained momentum during last year’s general election, when several political parties, including Pheu Thai, proposed allowing locals to elect their governors, a practice already in place in Bangkok and Pattaya.

Pheu Thai’s coalition government, during its policy announcement, introduced a CEO-governor model aiming to give provincial governors the same authority as a company CEO.

This call for elected governors grew louder on social media last week. Communities in Chiang Mai, frustrated with the handling of hazardous smog levels by appointed governors, led the charge.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, the Association of Thai Travel Agents President, voiced his support for elected governors. He argued that provincial governors should have a more significant role in local economies, especially tourism, and in addressing tourist safety issues.

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According to Sisdivachr, the current system of appointed governors, who are rotated to different provinces by the central government, leads to inconsistent policies and hinders development.

“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.”

However, not all share this viewpoint. La-iad Bungsrithong, a board advisor for the Thai Hotels Association’s northern chapter, believes that appointed governors can still play a crucial role, forming a direct connection with the national government and balancing local administrative power, reported Bangkok Post.

La-iad voiced concerns about the potential lack of suitable local candidates in some provinces. She argued that maintaining strong connections with the central government is crucial for provinces.

With municipal mayors and provincial administrative organisation (PAO) presidents already elected by locals, she suggests that “it might be better to have one appointed governor who can directly connect with the central administration.”

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Alex Morgan

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