Europe-PH News

Visa Deposit Costs Brought Down to Draw More Retirees

March 29, 2012

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines

Europe-PH News

The retirement industry has remained on a steady upward trend since supervision was transferred to the Tourism Department in 2010, the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) has reported.

Data from the PRA showed that net enrollment of retirees grew to 1,428 in 2010 and 1,615 in 2011 after posting declines in the previous years. The total net enrollment since 1987 is 18,267.

“The nexus between tourism and migration was strengthened as retirement was linked to different tourism perspectives — long stay tourism and medical tourism which later on comprised a retirement industry,” the PRA said in its 2011 annual report.

The Retirement and Health Coalition (RHC) agreed that the transfer of the PRA from me Bureau of Immigration and Department of Trade and Industry to the Department of Tourism (DoT) was a factor for the growth of the industry.

“International retirement migration usually follows these concepts tourism, long stay, and retirement. So PRA under DoT makes more sense,” said RHC Executive Director Marc Andre Daubenbuechel.

RHC is a nonstock nonprofit organization formed by the American, European, Japanese and Korean Chambers of Commerce to promote retirement and healthcare in the Philippines.

 

RETIREMENT PACKAGES

Mr. Daubenbuechel also attributed the growth to cheaper retirement packages offered by the PRA. “They brought down the deposit price for Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRVisa) from $50,000 to $20,000 for those between 35 and 50 years old,” Mr. Daubenbuechel said.

Foreign nationals need only to apply for the SRRVisa with the PRA to enjoy retirement here. According to the PRA’s Web site the, SRRVisa is a special non-immigrant resident visa that allows multiple entries and indefinite stay in the Philippines.

So-called “active retirees” can choose from three options: “classic,” for those who want to convert their visa deposit to investments. “smile,” for retirees who opt to lock-in their visa deposits in the bank and courtesy designed for “balikbayans” and foreign nationals who “worked either as former staff members of an internal organization or [had] previously rendered diplomatic services in the Philippines.”

Required visa deposits for the “classic” package range from $10,000-$50,000, while deposits for “smile” and “courtesy” packages cost $20,000 and $1,500 respectively.

For ailing retirees, the PRA has introduced the “Human Touch” package that requires a deposit of $10,000.

Mr. Daubenbuechel said tourists on leisure travels do not have deep concerns about the quality of living but SRRVisa holders need the same long-term conveniences as locals of the same status.

The RHC estimates that foreign retirees contribute revenues of roughly 2.4 billion a year. “This is expected to double in the next five years,” Mr. Daubenbuechel said.

 

THE RETIREMENT MARKET

Despite recent tensions over the hostage crisis at Rizal Park and the Spratly Islands, the Chinese account for the most number of foreign retirees in the country recording 6,324 net enrollees last year.

“There is growing need among nationals of the People s Republic of China to acquire an overseas visa stamping in their passports to be permitted by their government to travel overseas, and the SRRVisa sometimes helps get a second residencym,” said Prisdila Branzuela, corporate secretary of the Philippine Retirement Accredited Marketers Association.

Ms. Branzuela said the shorter travel time from mainland China and the big Chinese community in the Philippines are also important factors.

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Source: Business World;  Special Feature; 29 March 2012

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