Thailand’s Thai Elite golden visa scheme has been significantly renamed as Thailand Privilege, with price increases ranging from 50% to 500% across different packages. Thailand Privilege Card Co. (TCP), a subsidiary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, announced the move on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.
The former Thai Elite visa, which was available to anyone for one million baht (US$28,587), has given way to an elite Reserve Card, which is by invitation only and limited to only 100 new members per year. This costs 500,000 baht.
Holders of the Reserve Card can keep the good times flowing with five-year renewals that cost only 10% of the Reserve Card’s current value when extended.
Meanwhile, the popular five-year visa package, which was formerly worth 600,000 baht, has been renamed the Gold Card and is now worth 900,000 baht.
The Diamond Card (15 years for 2.5 million baht) and the Platinum Card (10 years for 1.5 million baht) are two other alternatives.
The revamp’s feature is a new loyalty scheme and privilege points that vary by tier, allowing members to redeem rewards through more than 100 programme partners around Thailand.
The most expensive new membership, named Reserve, will cost 5 million baht, up from 2 million baht for the current top-tier membership, with a visa term of 20 years.
The previous system was known for hallmark perks such as airport fast track services and golf packages, but the current scheme significantly expands on these offerings.
Approximately 1% of expats and long-stay tourists in Thailand are members of the Thai Elite programme, which has 31,500 members and has reportedly contributed more than 50 billion baht to the Thai economy.
Despite the fact that the programme only made its first profit of 238 million baht in 2021, 17 years after its inception, it has since remained successful.
“In the year 2023 alone, we achieved approximately 7,500 billion baht, witnessing a growth of more than 11,500 members, representing a remarkable 210 percent increase from revenue in 2022,” TPC president Manatase Annawat emphasised.
Under the new system, it wants to increase its membership by 10,000 in the coming year.
Thailand Elite packages are still available till September 15. On October 1, 2023, they will be phased out and replaced by new packages.
Thailand Eases Visa Rules for Chinese and Indians
Meanwhile, Thailand hopes to attract more Chinese tourists by relaxing visa requirements in order to generate $100 billion in tourism revenue.
Thailand is set to relax visa requirements for Chinese and Indian travellers, as incoming Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin seeks methods to increase tourism earnings to roughly US$100 billion next year.
According to the prime minister, Chinese tourists — the largest group of visitors prior to the pandemic – confront a costly and time-consuming visa-application process, which has been a drag on the tally this year.
While, Indian visitors must pay 2,000 baht (US$57) for a 15-day visa on arrival. Srettha stated that he would want to see the list of visa-exempt nations broadened, as well as enhanced stay limitations for most international travellers, with caps of 15 days or 30 days for many nationalities.
On Monday, Srettha met with executives from Airports of Thailand Pcl and numerous airlines to examine methods for luring more international visitors in the fourth quarter, which is traditionally the busiest season for tourism.
Srettha stated on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, that the airport operator committed to minimise bottlenecks in order to increase flight capacity by 20% and find solutions to speed up immigration checks.
The new government hopes to increase foreign visitor revenue to 3.3 trillion baht (US$94 billion) next year, with the tourism industry providing “the best short-term economic stimulus,” according to Srettha.
According to Bank of Thailand estimates, tourism accounts for around 12% of GDP and nearly one-fifth of employment.