The coronavirus pandemic has been very good to the Thailand Elite Card.
Following on a surge of signups by mainland Chinese hoping to the flee Covid-19 outbreak there, the program offering Thai visas of up to 20 years to high-wealth investors is now being flooded by Hong Kongers in the wake of China’s freshly imposed national security law.
Somchai Soongswang, president of Thailand Privilege Card, said signup from Hong Kong have soared 380 percent since the start of the fiscal year Oct. 1, but most of that growth has come since April, with more than 50 signups this quarter. The program expects at least 20 more membership before September.
Hong Kongers clearly are spooked by Beijing’s imposition of the new law targeting secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the former British colony, so much so that territory residents are willing to trade one autocratic government in Beijing for another in Bangkok.
Elite Card membership grew 20 percent during the first three quarters of fiscal 2020, rising by 1,894 people to 10,363. Mainlander accounted for 38 percent of the new visa holders, with Japan in second at 9 percent and the U.S. and U.K. at 7% each.
While people are fleeing Hong Kong for numerous places around the world, Thailand has the advantage of proximity, weather, culture and ease of setting up businesses, Somchai said.
New applicants can have their elite visas approved in as little as 15 business days, he added.
Elite visas offer foreigners residency in Thailand for five to 20 years, with applicants paying a one-time down payment of 500,000-2 million baht. Elite membership also offers perks such as free limousine pickup at airports, VIP lanes at airport immigration and help from officers to handle the 90-day reporting, free golfing and spas.