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Thailand’s soft power rises, thanks to tourism and culture 

Jul 19. 2017
Top 10 countries in the Soft Power 30 index
Top 10 countries in the Soft Power 30 index
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By The Nation

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Thailand has been listed among the “ones to watch” in the annual Soft Power 30 report published by Portland Communications on Tuesday .

The report notes that Thailand has strength in the areas of tourism and culture, but weak in governmental performance. 

Poerland notes that the “ones to watch” category means that the country’s performance on soft power is positive enough for it to be close to the top 30. This year, Thailand is ranked 36th.

“While the country continues to grapple with political unrest, its soft power assets have been growing from strength to strength,” the report said.

It added that Thailand is “one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and the second-highest ranking Southeast Asian nation on our index”.

Thai cuisine, culture and warm hospitality also played a role in attracting international attention, the report said.

While Thailand has been promoting its innovative and tech-savvy economy through the Thailand 4.0 initiative, the US-based report suggests otherwise.

Government performance and digital sub-indices, it said, “are clear signs that the country should develop those areas to improve its soft power assets”.

This included an expectation of a smooth transition of power after next year’s election, which should give the Kingdom the space to promote cultural production, and increase investment in digital infrastructure and public diplomacy.

The leading soft power this year was France, followed by Canada, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Despite major terrorist attacks and the rise of far-right nationalist populism, the internationalist, business-friendly party of Emmanuel Macron has been handed a large mandate to lead France forward after a period of political and social unrest,” the report said.

The US was downgraded from first position in last year’s report because global public opinion about the country had soured since president Donald Trump took office.

Four Asian countries made it into the Soft Power 30 –- Japan, Singapore, South Korea and China, with all of them except Singapore improving their ranking on the previous year.China, which ranked 25th, was said to have a better outlook on globalisation and environmentalism.

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