Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaiboon took over as the new Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) from 1 September 2023.
Having been with the TAT in 1999 after earning a master’s degree in science from the University of Surrey in the UK, Ms. Thapanee has held various positions within the organisation, including Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business, and most recently Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing.
In her most recent role as TAT Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing, Ms. Thapanee initiated various tourism initiatives to help drive Thailand’s economy. Among them included the workation in Thailand, faith and religious tourism routes, and solo travels – which helped stimulate 151.45 million domestic trips in 2022 – about 88% of the record year in 2019 – and generated 641.5 billion Baht.
In her role as Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business, Ms. Thapanee was recognised for her leadership in initiating the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification programme that enabled hotels and services to meet specific health and safety standards. The programme became a mandatory requirement for hotels seeking to register as quarantine facilities during the period of strict COVID-19 control measures and also received global recognition in alignment with the WTTC SafeTravels protocols.
She also initiated the Special Tourist Visa (STV) scheme to promote the reopening of Thailand, which led to subsequent entry schemes, including Villa Quarantine, Yacht Quarantine and Golf Quarantine, as well as the Phuket Sandbox, which has been recognised internationally as the model for the country’s reopening.
Recognised as a social media and technology savvy individual, Ms. Thapanee has played a key role in utilising technology and social media in the promotion and development of Thailand’s tourism. Some of her outstanding achievements in this area have included the Google Street View project in cooperation with Google Thailand, and the ‘Amazing Thailand’ social media platforms.
As an advocate of Thailand’s tourism, Ms. Thapanee has been instrumental in the development of various special interest tourism products, including health and wellness tourism, yacht and cruise tourism, and community tourism, as well as the “King’s Wisdom for Sustainable Tourism” project, which won the PATA Grand Awards 2018 in the category of Education and Training.
In her earlier years with the TAT, Ms. Thapanee was widely recognised for her contribution towards the promotion and development of intra-regional travel within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).