Thailand plans to raise fee of five-year visas for foreigners hinh anh 1Passengers at an airport in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo: VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) - Thailand plans to increase the price of its five-year residency permit by 20 percent in January 2021, after the programme dubbed "elite" visas drew a record new membership this year as people sought to stay in the largely coronavirus-free country.

According to Thailand Privilege Card – a company under the Tourism Authority of Thailand  and the operator of the programme – Easy Access, one of the nine elite-visa packages, will be offered for 600,000 baht (19,850 USD), up from the current 500,000 baht. Easy Access enjoyed great demand this year, for its cheaper price and the privilege of staying in Thailand for an uninterrupted five years.

Thailand Privilege Card added 2,674 members during its fiscal 2020 ending in September, a 24.8 percent increase. Over 60 percent of the new members were Easy Access holders.

President of the company Somchai Soongswang attributed the record membership to Thailand's containment of COVID-19.

He added that many tourists trapped in Thailand amid closed borders wanted to stay here longer, and others from abroad wished to come here for a "pandemic-free" living environment.

The Southeast Asian country has logged slightly over 4,000 COVID-19 cases, compared with over 65,500 in neighboring Malaysia and 58,000 in Singapore./.