Rise in expatriate residence in Thailand prompts tourism benefits plan

Photo: @theviewfromoverhere/ Instagram.

Thailand’s popularity as a residence of choice for expatriates and remote workers is on the rise. As per the data from the Employment Department and Colliers Thailand, the first quarter of this year saw 156,596 expatriates, with over half based in Bangkok.

The leading nationalities were Japanese, Chinese, and Indian last year. However, recent reports show an increased interest among Chinese nationals in purchasing condominium units in Thailand.

In response to this expatriate residence trend, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is planning to offer benefits specifically catered towards this segment next year. As the tourism trend shifts towards longer stays post-pandemic, operators are exploring ways to engage this demographic.

The TAT governor, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, revealed plans to offer expatriates benefits, some of which were requested for years, such as reduced entrance fees to national parks and attractions. The promotional campaigns to be launched will highlight workstation locations across Thailand, emphasising the unique working environment.

Three resort islands in Surat Thani, namely Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao, are popular amongst digital nomads.

Ratchaporn Poolsawadee, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, said that these islands are home to an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 digital nomads.

“Long-stay visitors and remote workers are attracted to the beautiful nature and local culture, as well as various types of accommodation at different price ranges.”

Despite the popularity, there are issues with visa overstays in Samui, leading to increased security measures. The employment trend has shifted since the pandemic, with many companies now hiring Thai nationals for managerial positions, instead of relocating executives from Japan. This shift is attributed to cost-cutting measures amid slow economic growth and a weak yen.

However, the number of Chinese expatriates has surged due to increased investment by Chinese firms in Thailand, particularly by electric vehicle producers and tech companies. These companies are the leading investors in industrial estates in Rayong province, which is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

The EEC attracts mainly Asian companies and has seen quick expansion in investment and the number of expats post-pandemic. This has boosted the house rental market, with foreigners working for companies in industrial estates accounting for 70% of Origin Nationwide’s properties in Rayong and Si Racha, reported Bangkok Post.

Chiang Mai, a popular destination for foreign retirees, has seen its image tarnished by the annual smog issue. Despite this, many retirees, like Sumitoshi Nishida, a Japanese retiree living in Chiang Mai for over a decade, still consider it the best place to live due to its affordable living costs, warm climate, local culture and food, quality hospitals, and golf courses. However, issues like traffic conditions and the quality of roads, sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings need to be addressed to enhance the city’s livability.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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