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Thai authorities look to crypto after collapse of tourism industry

Thailand’s authorities will enable cryptocurrency like Bitcoin as a mode of payment in popular tourist destinations to attract high spending tourists 

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has expressed its desire to establish the Kingdom as the first crypto-friendly tourist spot, especially for travelers from Japan which it views as a regional hub of crypto activity. The initiative to go out of its way to welcome cryptocurrency holders into the country is Thailand’s latest attempt to revive its pandemic-battered tourism industry.

The authorities have conducted a feasibility study on implementing cryptocurrency like Bitcoin as a mode of payment in popular tourism destinations to facilitate the smooth implementation of the initiative.

The emerging popularity of cryptocurrency in Asian nations has acted as a stimulus for Thailand to turn to crypto to bring back well-heeled tourists into its borders. The nation has been witnessing a major drop in tourism since the first quarter of 2020 when Asian nations began closing their borders in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn told the Bangkok Post that cryptocurrency could be the key to attracting the high rollers. “If we can prepare the country for the cryptocurrency market, it will help attract more opportunities from high-spending tourists, especially the young and wealthy generations”, he explained.

The authority also clarified that any use of cryptocurrency in the country will be facilitated keeping in mind the regulations from the central bank and all possible measures to deter money laundering will be adopted. In 2019, regulators had expressed interest in reviewing crypto laws in the country to enable the market to be “more competitive.”

Mr. Yuthasak further suggested that creating a crypto-friendly tourism experience can influence Elon Musk to visit Thailand in light of his firm having heavily invested in Bitcoin recently.  “Even Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and a crypto influencer, might be interested in visiting Thailand”, he said.

TAT cited three-year-old data which suggested that Japan has an 11% crypto ownership rate. However, a recent survey by Statista shows that the country has one of the lowest crypto adoption rates at 4%.

Thailand, with a number of crypto exchanges like Bitkub and the recently opened Upbit, is one of the crypto-forward nations in the world. Despite this there are very few places around the country that actually accepts digital currencies as payment method. If implemented, the proposed initiate might help the country meet its foreign arrival goal in the post-pandemic world of 8 million, a number that once was close to 40 million.

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