Thailand is experiencing a boom in applications from entrepreneurs seeking to take advantage of the investor-friendly Thailand Elite Residence Program. With the latest sales figures indicating a nearly 60% growth in the fiscal first quarter and a profit of over $8.75 million, overall demand for the program is at an all-time high. Most noticeable, however, is the sharp uptick from entrepreneur applicants: the number of these applications increased by more than 60% year-on-year between 2016 and 2018.
Dominic Volek, Managing Partner and Head of Southeast Asia at global residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners, says Thailand has established itself as a target destination for entrepreneurs and investors wanting to do business or get their start-up off the ground.
“The steep growth trajectory of entrepreneur-investors for the Thailand Elite Residence Program over the last three years is proof of Thailand’s growing reputation as not only a country of exquisite beauty and exceptionally high living standards, but also a fantastic place to do business.”
Traditionally, Singapore has been the regional powerhouse for start-ups, owing to its business-friendly climate and impressive global access. However, Thailand is rapidly catching up due to its technology-driven infrastructure and burgeoning innovation culture.
While the country is perhaps better known as a top tourist destination, the Thai government has strongly supported start-ups for a number of years, attracting investment from local and overseas investors, easing regulations, and extending tax waivers for venture capital.
These efforts have paid off, with the ongoing popularity of the Thailand Elite Residence Program indicating that interest in the country now extends far beyond its beautiful beaches, fine cuisine, and rich culture. The latest figures show that there is increasing interest in Thailand from Chinese investors and entrepreneurs in particular – between 2016 and 2018, the number of Chinese applicants for the Thailand Elite Residence Program grew more than seven-fold.
The program is also popular with Japanese and French nationals, who nearly tripled and doubled their number of applicants respectively from 2016 to 2018. Other nationalities that favour the residency program include American, Australian, and British nationals.
The surge in program applications is part of a wider global trend, with increasing numbers of entrepreneur-investors seeking alternative residence or citizenship. Volek adds: “Globally, we are seeing more and more interest amongst high-net-worth individuals wanting to acquire alternative residence or citizenship as a means of diversifying their family’s opportunities and business interests and improving their quality of life.
This is reflected in Henley & Partners’ powerful overall growth in Southeast Asia, recording a nearly 50% year-on-year growth in the number of applicant submissions for both residence and citizenship programs from 2017 to 2018.”
Since Henley & Partners became the official global concessionaire, the Thailand Elite Residence Program has expanded dramatically and now has over 7,500 members. The first of its kind worldwide, the program is managed by Thailand Privilege Card Co. Ltd and offers applicants privilege entry visas, which include a wide range of VIP benefits.
The program provides a multiple-entry visa to qualified applicants, allowing them to visit and reside in Thailand for a period of between five and twenty years, at a one-time cost of between approximately $16,000) and $68,000, depending on the option chosen. Benefits include airport limo services and lounge access, expedited immigration formalities, access to healthcare services, dedicated concierge, and various privileges across hotels, shopping centres, golf courses.