Southeast Asian countries race to attract wealthy foreign tourists for longer stays

By Hoang Phong   November 21, 2022 | 05:08 pm PT
Southeast Asian countries race to attract wealthy foreign tourists for longer stays
Arrivals at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, January 1, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana
While Southeast Asian neighbors are vying for wealthy foreigners by launching 'golden visas' with maximum stays of up to 20 years, Vietnam still makes no headway with its one-month visa policy.

Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, has introduced a new visa available for a period of five or ten years to those who hold at least two billion rupiahs (US$127,174) in their bank accounts, Bloomberg reported.

The policy takes effect this Christmas.

"This is a non-fiscal incentive for certain foreigners to make a positive contribution to the Indonesian economy," said Indonesia's Acting Director General for Immigration Widodo Ekatjahjana as cited by Bloomberg.

Thailand has already accepted applications for its new Long Term Residence visa program that will be valid for 10 years and offer multiple entries.

To be eligible for the visa program, foreigners must hold at least $1 million in assets, a validated annual personal income of a minimum of $80,000 for the past two years and an investment of at least $500,000 in Thai government bonds, foreign direct investment or Thai property.

The visa is also open for retirees aged 50 years and older who have an annual pension or stable income, which is at least $80,000 per year at the time of application.

From Oct. 1, the Malaysian government started receiving applications for its premium visa program that will be valid for 20 years.

Those eligible are individuals of all ages with an offshore income of at least RM480,000 a year, have at least RM1 million in their bank account and are only allowed to withdraw 50% of that amount after a year for the purchase of property or to pay for medical and educational expenses.

Cambodia also introduced its 10-year "golden visa" program that allows foreigners to apply for Cambodian citizenship after five years and gain access to insurance coverage and VIP medical treatment, Khmer Times reported.

After reopening international tourism from March 15, Vietnam has stopped issuing multi-entry visas for three months or longer, and is only issuing 30-day, single entry visas at present.

Many foreigners see Vietnam as an ideal place for retirement with friendly people, natural landscapes and diverse tourism activities, but strict visa policies are keeping them away.

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