As Chinese demand for Thai Elite Visa rises, program set for record year

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Wholly owned subsidiary of Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism ‘The Thailand Privilege Card Company Ltd.’ Issued 498 ‘Elite’ visas to investors and their dependents during the first quarter of this year. Fast-growing Chinese demand is sustaining the program’s significant upward trend.

At the end of 2018, Chinese applicants comprised 29% of collective Thai Elite visa-holders. During the first quarter of 2019, however, Chinese naturals received 44% of visas (amounting to 220 individuals) bringing their cumulative share up to 31%.

Japanese, American, French, and British investors took home 7%, 6%, 6%, and 4% respectively of visas in the first quarter, which is similar to their historical proportions.

The 498 visas issued in the first quarter would, if volumes of applications remain constant, translate into nearly 2,000 visas for the entire year or a 16% increase on the previous year.

With that said, 4,529 individuals have received Thai Elite visas since the program began in 2014, 71% of whom joined the program in either 2017, 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.

The 7 different visa categories offered range in price from THB 500,000 (around US$16,000) to THB 2 million (US$65,000).

Although Thai authorities do not publish separate figures for main applicants and dependents, which makes it impossible to report revenue figures accurately, the THB 280 million raised from the first fiscal quarter’s (October to December 2018) 608 visas gives a rough estimate of overall program income. Assuming average family sizes and visa category preferences remain unchanged, the program is raising investments to around US$15,000 per individual visa.

The overall program revenue since 2014 would therefore amount to around US$68 million, nearly US$33 million of which was raised in the last 15 months.

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