It's official, Thailand only wants the wealthy to come visit
I lived here long enough to know a thing or two about this country and while I do not claim to know it all, I know enough about the decision makers at the top to realize that even though for decades the backpacking and budget-travelers have been a relative backbone of the lower and middle-class income, that the out-of-touch lawmakers have been aiming at getting only the "right kind of tourists" to visit this country.
While the various government officials gather together to congratulate themselves on the upcoming "reopening" before it even happens, out of sight from the public eye they have been creating a scheme that in no way is going to benefit the average working stiff or small to medium sized business.
The upcoming long-term visa that Immigration is currently patting themselves on the back for before it has even been unleashed has such ludicrous requirements that I don't even know anyone that would qualify for it. They also totally miss the point when it comes to their "digital nomad visa."
In order to qualify for one of these long-stay visas you have no not only be very rich on paper with at least a million dollars in assets that you can prove you have, but you must also invest in Thailand government bonds. If you are seeking the "investment visa option" you have to be rich and you also must invest $500,000 in the government. If you are over 50 and want to retire in Thailand you have to invest $250,000 in government bonds.
I know quite a few retirees here in this country and even the people that do have that sort of money would under no circumstances turn it over to the Thai government out of fear of never getting it back. Plus, most of the retirees I know intentionally moved to Thailand because it is cheaper than retiring in their home countries. Under these new rules, they may be forced to go somewhere else.
According to data that I can find about it, these bonds have historically resulted in a less than 2% APR yield. What sort of actual investor is going to be interested in such horrible returns?
The digital nomad scene in Thailand and in particular the part of it that I currently live, Chiang Mai, used to be absolutely booming and it was considered one of the best places in the world for digital nomads to flock to. The new "digital nomad visa" has, again, absurd requirements that I can't really imagine any digital nomad qualifying for. For one thing, the wording is very vague and when this happens you can be all but guaranteed that it is not going to apply to really any actual digital nomads.
Digital nomads or employees of high-value foreign companies who want to work remotely from Thailand.
What does "high-value" even mean? Also, of the digital nomads that I know, most of them work as independent contractors and work for a wide variety of different companies on a job-by-job contractual basis. None of them would qualify for this visa. The last digital nomad visa that they tried to implement - and once again turned this into a wonderful photo op for all the politicians involved - had a minimum annual salary requirement of something crazy like $150,000 per year. What sort of digital nomad makes that much money? Well, unless you are talking about crypto investors who are not going to divulge their earnings anyway... basically none of them.
If Thai people aren't already angry enough, they are going to be once this great reopening occurs and none of the small businesses actually benefit from it at all. This is clearly designed only to help high-end properties and corporations with zero consideration for the thousands of small businesses, hostels, and budget bungalows all over the country.
Logic would dictate that a country that depends on tourism for so much of their overall economy wouldn't choose now as a time to pick and choose who they are going to let in, let alone make the segment so small that almost nobody is even going to pursue it.
So unless you are a multi-millionaire the idea of coming to work and live in Thailand, the way that so many people have done over the entire time that I have lived here and long before that, you can basically forget about it. I just don't understand how these politicians can make these sorts of stupid mistakes over and over again and even worse, the people continue to vote for the idiots who make it happen.
The mass exodus out of Thailand for middle class people started before Covid was even a thing. Thailand has a wonderful opportunity to capitalize on the global desire to travel but instead they are going to make it more difficult than it was before in order for people to live here. If this decision stands, we are going to see thousands of small businesses that haven't already gone out of business, do so soon.
How can the leaders of this country not realize that no matter how they tweak the rules, they are not going to change what people travel to Thailand for. They need to face the fact that this isn't, never was, and never will be Bora Bora or some other exotic destination for the rich and famous. This country is a budget-travel country and they seem to be doing everything in their power to eliminate even that. Time to look at Cambodia and Vietnam I guess!