You have heard of bitcoin (we assume), but have you ever paid for a margarita with bitcoin on Copacabana beach whilst soaking up some holiday sun? No? Us neither unfortunately, but will that kind of thing ever be considered the norm? As a favour to our readers, we are going to explore whether we think bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could make the future of tourism easier. So, grab your sunnies, your favourite book and your wallet bitcoin wallet and let’s have a little look at bitcoin in tourism.
Where are we off to first?
Thailand saw over 32 million tourists visit in 2016 and since their government’s 2014 decision to allow the legal use of bitcoin in the country, the currency has gained traction. One popular bar in Thailand that sees around 2000 visitors a day, the Beer Garden, accepts bitcoin as payment. Owner, Peter Noid, stated in an interview with bitcoin.com they receive on average 1 or 2 transactions a day in bitcoin. One reason the Beer Garden has seen customers switching to bitcoin is to protect themselves from the high level of fraud in Thailand – this is a great example of a benefit of bitcoin in tourism, especially in economies where these problems are more commonplace.
Bitcoin Gaining Traction
If there is one country a bitcoin tourist could easily get by, it’s the country that brought us the ground-breaking tech inventions of the calculator, the Walkman and karaoke – yes, it’s Japan. They remain at the head of the adoption curve with a recent deal facilitating the future acceptance of bitcoin in over 300,000 establishments across the country by late 2017.
Whilst we’re on the topic of Japan, the local government of Hirosaki have come up with a pretty ingenious method to boost tourism in their region. The area needs funding to tend to their iconic cherry trees and the stone wall of Hirosaki Castle, so have launched an initiative whereby they are accepting donations in bitcoin. Their aim is to raise money, but they also hope that once people feel invested in the area they will eventually visit and boost tourism in the region. So not only are they opening donations to the world and cutting out cross-border fees, they are also using bitcoin to boost tourism! Pretty neat huh?
The state of Hawaii is considering a bill that would see bitcoin play a bigger role in the Hawaiian tourism industry. The bill would mean a group is established to explore ways blockchain technology could benefit the tourism sector. This could see the state of Hawaii making it as easy as possible for tourists to be able to spend their bitcoin whilst visiting the Aloha State. Who needs the Copacabana anyway?
Whilst we’re on the topic of the US state of Hawaii, why not check out our marketing director, Amélie Arras’ trek across the US using only bitcoin here.
Future of Bitcoin
Bitcoin is constantly having ups and downs, both in the news and in value. There are drawbacks to accepting bitcoin, namely the long wait times for a payment to clear coupled with the volatility of the currency. However, with the lightning network expected to roll out for the currency soon, facilitating faster payments, this could really boost the level of acceptance across the globe. Countries like Japan provide a great example of how bitcoin acceptance is growing on a large scale. The local governments of Hirosaki and Hawaii also show the potential that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology could have in boosting tourism.
Alas, the dream of a bitcoin-friendly Copacabana beach remains but a pipedream for now. Having said that, I’ve always fancied a trip to Japan!