Offering a long term visa in lieu of a form of investment is nothing new. Many countries have schemes to promote their country, generate capital, and to offer non-residents an attractive package allowing long term residence bypassing usual visa requirements such as local employment.
The Thailand Elite scheme was established in 2003 and achieves just that. For a fee, members can acquire a visa and access to numerous complimentary services within Thailand such as fast track immigration and passport control when arriving and departing at Suvarnabhumi and Phuket Airports as well as limousine transfers at other Thai airports.
Other privileges are available at several Golf Clubs, Hospitals, Banks, Legal Firms, Restaurants, Hotels, Boxing Stadiums, and Cooking Classes to name just a few. The aim is to lure high-net-worth individuals to the Kingdom.
ThailandElite offers several tiers of membership. This includes the most popular type of card: the Elite Easy Access that comes with a five-year stay. Other memberships include family schemes, ten and twenty-year memberships visas, the latter being the highest level: the Elite Ultimate Package costing THB 2 million.
Ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak Thailand Privilege Card Co, the company behind the scheme, the focus was to expand its reach paying particular attention to high-net-worth individuals from Bangladesh and India, Australia and New Zealand, United Kingdom, China and Japan.
The aim to sell 2,460 cards costing from THB 500,000 to generate THB 1.5 billion in membership fees. For its latest financial year, October 2018 to September 2019, the company generated THB 1.3 billion revenue, an increase of 27 percent year-on-year revealing the success and profitability of the scheme.
Membership was held by 125 countries with China holding the most, followed by the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States and France. The Chinese experienced a 88% increase year-on-year and it will be interesting to see how these figures pan out with recent global pandemic.
However, while many countries remain in lockdown, China has started to open up giving indications of the desire to travel again. Many are citing that Thailand will remain high on the agenda for traveling Chinese least of all because the Kingdom’s cases remain relatively low and the country still retains many of its attractions: culture, low cost of living, and sun-drenched beaches adding to the appeal of Thailand Elite’s visa packages.
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