Diplomacy Briefing: U.S. Ambassador Bids Farewell to Chiang Mai
On August 23rd, 2018, the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, the Honorable Glyn T. Davies, paid his final courtesy call on the Provincial Governor of Chiang Mai, Supachai Iamsuwan. The high-level talks were held behind closed doors, but the ambassador welcomed members of the media at a press conference following the meeting. The ambassador shared exciting news for Chiang Mai and discussed the long and important relationship between the United States and Thailand.
The ambassador presented the highlights of his discussion with the governor, sharing with reporters some of the key topics, including the governor’s efforts to improve both road safety and public transport and plans for a new campus for the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai.
New Consulate Campus
Much has been rumored about the relocation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai from its current historic campus on the Ping River. Ambassador Davies shared new information about the planned new campus. Heralding the new campus in glowing terms, he said, “The new consulate will stand as a symbol of our commitment to Northern Thailand.” The Ambassador also provided a timeline for the much-anticipated project. The building and grounds will be designed and built over the next five years. But the most rousing news is of significant economic importance;. Authorities estimate that the project will inject 1.5 billion baht into the local economy.
When asked how he will promote Thai tourism to the United States, the ambassador was frank: “Thailand sells itself,” he said. He then announced that, for the first time in history, the U.S. sent 1 million tourists to the Kingdom last year. He underscored that Thailand is very well known to Americans and that he expects tourism links to continue to be strong between the two nations.
We asked the ambassador what particular efforts were in place to support the American digital nomad community, taking into account that Thailand and, in particular, Chiang Mai, are consistently listed as top destinations for them. He admitted that he would like to become more familiar with the digital nomad community and its needs, turning to US Consul General Jennifer Harhigh, for affirmation that they would look into how best to serve them with new initiatives while respecting their entrepreneurial and independent spirit by not forcing unnecessary government intervention.
On the topic of democracy and a free press, the ambassador was unequivocal. “It is very important to support the free press,” he said. Ambassador Davies went on to express his nation’s hopes that Thailand will soon hold “free and fair” elections. “We hope,” said the ambassador, “that every Thai will have a chance to participate in the conversation.”
A Story of Friendship
To bookend the press conference, Ambassador Davies thanked Governor Supachai for continuing what Davies calls the “story of friendship” between the United States and Thailand. He also recognised the Consul General Harhigh for her tireless and noteworthy work in Chiang Mai.
From Chiang Mai, Ambassador Davies continued to Chiang Rai, where he met with many who were involved in the cave rescue of the Wild Boars team.