Many Thailand Elite Card members cancel travel plans as Covid-19 cases rise

Photo via Thanee Estate & Law

The new wave of Covid-19, infecting more than 30,000 people over the past month, set back travel plans for Thailand Elite Card members. The company that operates the card services, Thailand Privilege Card, is now banking on the Phuket sandbox model to draw in cardholders. The travel scheme, which is planned to start in July as long as Phuket vaccinates 70% of the population to reach herd immunity, would allow vaccinated travellers from overseas to enter the island province without undergoing quarantine.

The company’s president, Somchai Soongswang, says a waived quarantine period in a destination where Covid-19 is under control is a deciding factor for cardholders when making travel plans.

“No quarantine, like the Phuket sandbox concept, and containing the virus are key factors to help existing members finalise their decision to visit Thailand.”

Since the Thailand Elite Members Quarantine Programme approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration back in August, just over 1,000 cardholders have travelled to Thailand. Another 1,500 members say they want to visit, but they are waiting for documents to be processed, flights to be available, or for a vaccine against Covid-19 before travelling.

Some were planning on travelling to Thailand, and already had their Certificate of Entry, a requirement for entering Thailand, but cancelled plans due to the recent wave of Covid-19 this month which is hitting record highs.

The new wave of cases even led a potential cardholder to delay their decision to buy a property in Thailand, according to Somchai. The company offers an Elite Flexible One membership for 500,000 baht, allowing a 5 year, multiple entry visa for those who buy property in Thailand for 10 million baht or more.

There are more than 13,500 Elite cardholders. Most of the younger members are so-called “digital nomads” from Japan, the United States, and Europe, who work remotely as either programmers or software engineers.

The company has approved a significant number of new members in the past few months. From October 2020 to March 2021, the company approved 2,552 new members, a large increase from the same period last fiscal year at 1,322 new members. Half of the new members are between the ages of 30 and 49 while the retirement age group made up 23.7% of new members.

Despite the rise in Covid-19 cases affecting travel plans, Somchai says the company hopes to hit 2,600 new members by April.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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