Elite Card to lure wealthy investors with work visas
Thailand plans to use a newly introduced Thailand Elite Card programme offering a work permit to lure investments from international professionals.
Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor and chairman of the board of directors at Thailand Privilege Card (TPC), the operator of Thailand Elite Card, said the Royal Gazette published on Jan 6 privileges for cardholders in the Flexible Plus programme, including changing the Privilege Entry Visa to a non-B visa and five-year work permit.
Cardholders receive these privileges if they apply for one of three types of cards worth 1 or 2 million baht and invest at least US$1 million in either real estate, a limited company or a public company, or the stock exchange.
He said the 10-year visa may resemble a similar scheme called long-term resident (LTR) that the cabinet approved last month. TPC will differentiate its products by offering exclusive services for members while staying in Thailand, such as concierge service in the immigration fast lane at airports, as well as limousine transfer, and golf, spa and personal liaisons, aiming to match demand for those seeking additional assistance, said Mr Yuthasak.
The required investment value of the LTR scheme is between $250,000-500,000, lower than Thailand Elite Card's investment threshold of $1 million, and members must keep their investment for five years to maintain the work permit.
"The target markets could be different as LTR may be attractive for business-oriented individuals, while Elite Card will focus on so-called bleisure visitors, who combine leisure and business purposes," he said.
TPC wants to attract 400 members in the Flexible Plus scheme in the first year, which will help generate at least 15 billion baht for the local economy via direct investments, said Mr Yuthasak.
He said TAT, as the major shareholder of TPC, directed the company to conduct a market survey to pinpoint the specific needs of the high net worth segment before launching the programme in April.
In fiscal 2021, TPC recorded a net profit of 238 million baht, its first time ever posting a profit after incurring losses since its establishment in 2003.
This year the company hopes to add 4,400 new members, up from 3,280 in 2021.
"We have to maintain profit in the long run, which is still a challenge," said Mr Yuthasak. "The profit gained last year was partly driven by lower service costs as members could not visit Thailand due to travel restrictions. The number of active members was only 300 per month, down from 3,000 in the pre-Covid period."