The first 12 days saw a modest influx of LTR visa requests; to yet, 400 people—mostly retirees—have submitted applications. With nearly 20% of the applications coming from the US, Americans were the group who jumped on the new LTR visa scheme the most. Just 1,200 people applied for the smart visa program in the four years since the previous visa scheme was introduced to entice long-term expats to the kingdom, so the 400 applicants this month could be a good omen. Following a worldwide decline in tourism, nations are devising strategies to draw travelers and generate income. To raise Thailand’s standing in emerging technologies and make the nation a Southeast Asian tech powerhouse and global player, the country has adopted the strategy of seeking to attract wealthy expats, especially digital nomads and wealthy pensioners, as well as enticing competent experts. Another 30% of applicants were digital nomads looking to relocate to Thailand and conduct their remote employment from there.

The applications so far are being framed by officials as a preview of what is to come as the program gains pace. With 15% of all applications received so far, China has the second-highest demographic, followed by the UK with 10% of those that applied. Rich international citizens and highly skilled workers made up the remaining 30%. In an interview given in Bangkok, the deputy secretary-general of the Board of Investment revealed that around 40% of those who had filed for the LTR visa were retirees. Tourism accounted for 12% of Thailand’s GDP prior to the pandemic. By enticing wealthy foreigners to relocate, invest, and spend money here, the government hopes that this new scheme will create one trillion baht in income annually.

Thailand has made it a priority to market to the richest people both nationally and globally. The LTR visa aims to draw some of the about 300,000 foreigners who are already residing permanently in the nation on one of the many different types of visas available, such as retirement visas, education visas, business visas, or family-related visas. Other nations, like Singapore, have shunned the desire for wealthy foreigners in favor of luring in foreign innovators and talent only. The administration anticipated that one million wealthy foreigners would participate in the new long-term residence visa, which went into effect on September 1.

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