Cryptocurrencies are gaining ground in the tourism sector
Generally speaking, if we analyse the trends, we can see how cryptocurrency transactions entered the tourism industry in 2013 and travel agencies worldwide started to accept them, along with Fiat money, to pay for flights, hotel rooms and other services.
New intermediaries are also getting in on the act, and websites that only manage cryptocurrency payments are popping up. This could be seen as a sign of the popularity crypto has gained in the market and the easy way this offers virtual coin holders to book travel services.
Nevertheless, there are still some gaps to bridge. Most travel agencies that accept payments in cryptocurrencies have to change them to Fiat to contract the services of providers and pay associated enterprises that don’t accept digital currencies and have decided to stick with traditional payment methods. However, the situation is likely to be the other way around in the future, given the potential benefits of blockchain technology in the tourism sector and its increasing adoption in many countries.
The tourism industry is no exception, and a large number of companies in the sector are now embracing blockchain technology and accepting cryptocurrencies as a payment alternative. 2017 saw the widespread proliferation of virtual currencies, leading to them becoming an objective for investors, and experts expect this trend to continue this year. Bitcoin, which appeared on the market as far back as 2009, is by far the most popular, but there are currently almost 1500 cryptocurrencies worldwide, and they’ve become today’s big financial phenomenon, despite doubts regarding the lack of control mechanisms. Unlike traditional payment methods, cryptocurrencies are not regulated by statutory bodies, businesses or central banks. They are not under the control of any government or country, and the control of the process lies in the hands of the users and is based on the trust they place in them.
There are already several companies in the sector accepting the digital currency as a means of payment, and it’s now possible to pay for a hotel room or a plane ticket with virtual currencies on certain platforms. Destina was the first online travel agency in the world to accept payment with bitcoin in 2014, and a few weeks later Expedia added it as another option to purchase their services.
But the big thing now is companies in the sector creating their own cryptocurrencies linked to tourism platforms. This is the case of Cubaaz, the first tourism cryptocurrency on the market from the Colombian online platform specialising in tourism that merged with the Spanish company Knowdle earlier this year. Touriscoin is another example, an initiative launched by 13 Tickets that sells tourist experiences through its website. Users can select different activities and pay with virtual currencies with the same guarantees as if it were cash. Some of the vists the tourism start-up offers include visits to the Alhambra in Granada, the Cathedral in Seville, the Alcazaba in Malaga, or sailing among whales in the Bay of Cadiz.
The world is changing, and we as professionals in the sector must move forward swiftly to rise to the challenge. Apart from the offer and possibilities, bitcoin and distributed technologies are already actually functioning as tourism growth-enhancers and platforms. Various countries and innovative companies around the world have set their sights on these financial assets to bring something new to the travel industry. Now, let’s see what the future holds!