Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, minister of tourism and sports, used Thai iced tea as a straightforward illustration of how the nation may exploit a cultural export to improve its standing abroad.
Phiphat said during the seminar “Thailand’s Future: Soft Power To Drive Nation” that we should add depictions of people drinking Thai tea in movies, serve it at international events, and utilize it as a welcome drink in hotels.
Phiphat acknowledged that his administration was underfunding soft power.
He made the same observation that the economy is impacted by soft power as other seminar speakers. For instance, it might increase tourist traffic.
According to Phiphat, Thailand can grow tourist revenue from its present 18% GDP share to 25% in five years.
To draw in more high-spending tourists, he continued, it is also vital to improve security and offer meaningful experiences.
Soft power, in whatever form it may take, is not a panacea.
American political scientist Joseph Nye is credited with coining the term “soft power”.
He defined it as “the ability to achieve what you want by attraction rather than compulsion or cash”, adding it reflected “the appeal of a country’s culture, political values and policies”.
The idea is viewed by Thai officials as a means of promoting exports and luring investment and tourism. They are advocating “the 5Fs”—food, film, fashion, fighting, and festivals—as possible soft power platforms.
The National Innovation Agency’s head, Pun-Arj Chairatana, told the seminar that more innovation was required and that the supply chain needed to be improved in order to boost exports of the 5Fs.
Several speakers from the public and business sectors talked on how Thailand can dominate the market for soft power and what role the government should play in promoting “Thainess” abroad.
The 2022 Global Soft Power Index, which places Thailand 35th out of 120 nations in terms of soft power and second in Asean, received a lot of attention.
During the three-and-a-half-hour seminar held by Nation Group on Tuesday at the Pullman Bangkok King Power hotel, Thailand’s ranking on the index was mentioned as evidence that the government needed to perform better.
Yet, neither the index’s reliability nor its methodology were discussed.
It appears that no one has given “soft power” a serious examination.
The Support Arts and Crafts International Center of Thailand’s acting director, Pavee Phoyee, hopes to encourage the next generation of Thai designers to use Thai woven fabrics into their collections.
He defined soft power as “wisdom”.
He said, “We hope that we can assist in transforming Thai community wisdom—soft power—into craft power and enhance the economy.
A two-star Michelin chef named Chumpul Jangprai wants to accomplish the same with cuisine.
He declared that Thai cuisine was the best medicine in the entire globe.
He wants to send trained Thai chefs anywhere in the world. He is aware that there are restaurants there already, but he voiced disappointment that the recipes are not always the same as at home. and open an online Thai cooking academy in seven different languages to promote Thai cuisine.
Since Thai chilies are the most fragrant in the world, Chumpul predicted that Thai seafood dip will soon be a staple in every family.
“If the government truly understands the importance of the food and restaurant business, it will become a super soft power for Thailand’s future economy,” said Sorathep Rojpojchanarat, president of the Restaurant Business Club, in calling on the government to lift the restrictions on the sale of alcohol between 2 and 5 o’clock.
He also encouraged the government to promote Thai cuisine and its history through Netflix, movies, and documentaries.
He added that Thai street food should be improved and that the government ought to create a separate organization to market Thai restaurants internationally.
Meanwhile, politicians each had their own perspectives on soft power.
The chairman of the Chart Pattana Kla Party, Suwat Liptapanlop, said that his organization used color-coded soft power. According to Suwat, white is for tourists who are looking for spirituality, yellow is for cultural exports, green is for cuisine, and blue is for wellness.
He proposed setting up a fund for international festivals to harness the artistic sector to advance soft power.
Sita Divari, the Thai Sang Thai Party’s secretary, entered the stage while donning a pair of elephant-print pants.
“Soft power is a global worldview mixed with Thainess, such as food, spas, and boxing. People who are knowledgeable about it must push it, Sita said.
He wants Thailand’s soft power to be its domestic booze.
The Move Ahead Party’s Abhisit Laisatruklei wasn’t the most upbeat speaker.
According to Abhisit, those working in the creative sector now have no future.
“Oppressive laws are stifling creativity.”
He said that in order to make the creative economy a national enterprise, laws that restrict creativity must be repealed. He also mentioned that funding is a problem.
The Pheu Thai Party’s Jiraporn Sindhuprai stated that the party had three soft-power strategies before listing at least four more.
She claimed that its “one family one soft power” programme would result in the creation of 20 million employment and that its free course initiative would help employees reskill.
While Thai officials work to open doors for Thais everywhere, Thailand’s creative content agency will build the ecosystem for all domestic sectors.
Jiraporn stated that for Thailand to be accepted by other nations, it must be a democracy.
Pushing the arts and entertainment sector is essential, according to Watanya Bunnag, the head of the Democratic Party’s working committee on political innovation.
“The entertainment industry is how foreigners learn about Thailand, but they, not we, are in charge of the game and our narrative. We can only hope that they speak positively about Thailand, she said.
Watanya, the wife of Nation Group CEO Shine Bunnag, called for more support for innovative ideas.
Nikorn Chamnong, the head of the Chartthaipattana Party’s policy and strategy committee, suggested establishing a fund to support failing companies and encourage street food.
He cautioned against copying South Korea, citing its success in promoting its music, television, and movies around the world.
The seminar’s closing remarks were made by each of the political party representatives.
Suwat declared that “soft power” was a national treasure.
Sita stated, “People shouldn’t lose hope in the administration, and political parties must pay attention.
Abhisit stated that in order for soft power to be effective, everyone must be given an equal chance.
“Our party is unique because we have tremendous ideas and execution skills. We can carry out all of our promises, Jiraporn stated.
Watanya asserted that if efforts to promote Thai soft power abroad are effective, inequality will be reduced and people will have more possibilities.
“Thailand will gain attention by proposing soft power that is environmentally beneficial in a world where sustainability is a huge thing,” Nikorn added.