Thailand woos UK retirees amid Brexit uncertainty

BANGKOK • Thailand has launched a campaign aimed at attracting pensioner-age Britons to move to the country after the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union, a British media outlet has reported.

Mr Pruet Boobphakam, president of Thailand Elite, a government agency tasked with running the "exclusive" visa scheme, told the Press Association that Britain's divorce from the EU was a chance to boost ties between the two countries.

"I think that Brexit will give us an opportunity to open more, or to introduce Thailand even on a broader scale," he said. "You can live in Thailand for up to 20 years if you'd like to. Therefore it would be a good opportunity for both countries, in terms of the UK people and the Thai people," he was quoted as saying on the Belfast Telegraph news site last Friday.

CLARITY

If you would like to retire today somewhere abroad as a UK citizen, then suddenly because of Brexit it's not as clear that you can do that... You have to wait for the next two years to see if you can settle in the EU. But with Thailand, it is clear.

MR JUERG STEFFEN, group chief operating officer at Henley & Partners, an international residence and citizenship advisory firm.

But the offer of Thailand's 20-year residence programme, launched in 2003, does not come cheap, reported the news site, costing US$600 (S$842) a year, on top of a US$60,000 fee, although promoters say Thailand's low cost of living can help make up for the bill.

It also offers 10-year residence for around US$30,000, with perks like VIP transport services and annual health checks at a private hospital, as well as a five-year option for US$15,000.

Mr Juerg Steffen, group chief operating officer at Henley & Partners, an international residence and citizenship advisory firm that promotes the programme, said visa schemes like Thailand's provided clarity amid Brexit uncertainty.

"If you would like to retire today somewhere abroad as a UK citizen, then suddenly because of Brexit it's not as clear that you can do that," he said. "You have to wait for the next two years to see if you can settle in the EU. But with Thailand, it is clear."

THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'Thailand woos UK retirees amid Brexit uncertainty'. Print Edition | Subscribe