Thailand woos buyers with visas

Overseas Property | 22 Oct 2020

The tourism authority of Thailand plans to launch a Thai Elite visa program to attract more foreign investment, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported.

Battered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the foreigner entry restriction, the Thai housing market has seen a reduced transaction volume and sluggish sales.

To stimulate the property market, the Thai government plans to offer overseas buyers a Thai Elite visa, which will provide them with a right of abode for five to 20 years.

The Thailand Privilege Card program, more commonly known as the Thai Elite, is a long-term residence visa issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The program is now aiming to attract more investors with two stimulus schemes, which it will propose to the Centre for Economic Situation Administration.

The cards, worth 500,000 baht to two million baht, will be bought by property developers and then passed on to buyers.

Meanwhile, the Flex Plus scheme will offer a work permit to foreigners who invest at least US$1 million (HK$7.8 million) in Thailand.

The Thai Elite visa has seven membership options with different visa durations, benefits and fees.

Allowing members to enter the country without restrictions, the residence period of the visa ranges from five to 20 years, with its fees ranging from 500,000 baht to 2.14 million baht.

The governor of the Tourism Authority, Yuthasak Supasorn, expects the schemes to be implemented next year, adding that they will inject about 20 billion baht in extra foreign investment if the authority can sell 1,000 Elite visas under the program.

Currently, there are 9,380 Thai Elite members. Among them, 2,438 holders purchased before 2013, when the visa was perpetual, while 6,942 purchased the visa after 2013, when the term was changed to five to 20 years.

Around 22 percent, or 2,086, of visa holders are Chinese.

Despite the pandemic, Thai Elite has achieved more than 1,300 card sales since February.

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