The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was established on the 18th March 1960. TAT was the first organization in Thailand to be specifically responsible for the promotion of tourism. Since the inception of the first local office of TAT in Chiang Mai in 1968, there are now 35 regional offices throughout Thailand. TAT has also established many overseas offices the first being in New York, which was opened in 1965. During the past 30 years, TAT has since established 15 more offices in different parts of the world. The headquarters for TAT is on Phetchaburi Road in Bangkok. I was there on Thursday as part of the celebrations for the 51st anniversary of the TAT.
The modern chapter of Thailand’s official tourist promotions began life during the reign of King Rama V when His Royal Highness Prince Purachatra Jayakara, then Commissioner-General of the Royal State Railway of Siam, sent publicity materials on Thailand to the USA. In 1924, a publicity section was formed under the Royal State Railway of Siam; its duty was to help visitors to Siam as well as manage publicity. In 1936, the Ministry of Economic Affairs proposed a tourism promotion plan to the cabinet that aimed at the management and development of publicity, tourist facilitation, and destinations and accommodation. The Department of Commerce was entrusted with the tourism affairs.
The Director-General of the Publicity Department, Luang Sukhumnaiyapradit, pushed for the transfer of the Tourism Promotion Office from the Ministry of Commerce to the Publicity Department. This came into affect on the 4th August 1947. It was then renamed Office for the Promotion of Tourism. Its operation funds came from the Department’s own budget. The rapid expansion and growing awareness of tourism convinced the Publicity Department to upgrade the office to a regular division called the Tourism Office, following the 1950 Royal Decree on the Publicity Department Arrangement for Official Operations.
The Tourism Office grew into its own independent body for the first time during the administration of Field Marshal Srisdi Dhanarajata. Impressed by the tourism he saw while on a sick-leave in the USA, he announced in 1959 a Royal Decree to re-organize the Publicity Department and the establishment of a national tourist office. The Tourism Office was thus replaced by an independent body called the Tourist Organization. The organization set up its own office for the first time in a building on Si Ayutthaya Road in Sanam Sua Pa on March 18, 1960; its official inauguration date. In 1963 the title was changed slightly to become “Tourist Organization of Thailand” (TOT).
From that moment on, the national tourism rapidly expanded and yet concentrated principally on publicity campaigns. On account of the ever widening scope and importance of tourism activities, it had been recognized of the necessity to institute the development and conservation of the country’s tourism resources and to organize and control travel trade segments. Two bills, a Tourism Authority of Thailand bill and a Travel Trade Regulations Arrangement bill, were submitted for voting to the National Legislative Assembly in its April 20, 1979 session. Only the former was passed into law. The Tourism Authority of Thailand replaced TOT at the written proclamation in the Royal Gazette on May 4, 1979.
Source of Information: TAT