Thailand Privilege Card Co (TPC), the operator of Thailand Elite Card, is aiming for 10,000 new members this fiscal year ending September, with Chinese nationals being the top target because of the mainland's reopening.
From October last year to this month, 5,041 elite cards were sold, generating 3.1 billion baht in revenue, a massive gain from 1,950 cards sold last fiscal year generating 1.2 billion baht, said TPC president Manatase Annawat.
Of last year's total, the largest share -- accounting for 38% or more than 1,900 cards -- were sold to Chinese citizens, he said.
"Thailand ranked among the top residency programmes globally and was a major beneficiary of migration," said Mr Manatase.
From April to September, TPC expects to sell more than 5,000 cards, gaining 6-7 billion baht in revenue, he said.
"With total sales of 10,000 cards in 2023, it is expected to generate more than 10 billion baht for the economy as customers are staying longer and spending more than regular tourists," said Mr Manatase.
Elite Easy Access Membership, priced at 600,000 baht for a five-year validity, is the best-selling card, accounting for 42% of the total. The other most active cards are Elite Family Excursion Membership, costing 800,000 baht for five years, and the Elite Superiority Extension Membership, costing 1 million baht and valid for a period of 20 years.
Given concerns some questionable Chinese businesses may be involved in the programme, Mr Manatase said the verification and approval process for applicants had been tightened to ensure criminals were prevented from participating and to ensure safety.
Mr Manatase said the Immigration Bureau takes 7-15 days to screen applicants, while the National Intelligence Agency, which verifies markets on a US sanctions list -- including China -- takes another 30-45 days. The overall process tends to take between 45 to 90 days, he said.