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 more than THB 280 million (approximately USD 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 a burgeoning innovation culture. 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.
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 favor the residence 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.”