Sun, beach and… bitcoin. Thailand plans to attract visitors to invest in cryptocurrency to help boost tourism in the post-Covid-19 period. The ambitious plan aims to make Thailand one of the first countries in the world to widely accept the digital currency, which has risen by approximately 70% in 2021 alone — and has already left many investors rich overnight.
According to Thai authorities, the objective is to attract high-quality and high-spending tourists as soon as the country fully reopens its borders. Learn more about traveling with bitcoin in Thailand.
Bitcoin tourism in Thailand
According to the director of TAT (Thai Tourism Authority), Yuthasak Supasorn, a feasibility study has already been started to assess whether digital currencies can be accepted in tourist destinations in Thailand. In the long term, the aim is to allow hotels and other operators in the tourism sector to accept payments in cryptocurrencies.
Yuthasak has been negotiating with the Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan) an attempt to attract Japanese citizens who have currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum in their digital wallet. On average, the Japanese have more cryptocurrencies than any other nationality, reported the Bangkok Post. About 11% of Japan’s population invests in digital currencies, compared to just 7% globally.
‘Elon Elon Musk will want to visit Thailand’
According to Yuthasak, “Elon Elon Musk would like to visit Thailand if cryptocurrencies were more widely accepted,” in a reference to the South African multibillionaire, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, who recently invested $1.5 billion in bitcoins.
Yuthasak said that, in addition to discussing the matter with hotel and restaurant chains, the measure also needs the approval of the Bank of Thailand (BOT) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Other measures must be put in place to prevent money laundering.
The change would help the Thailand Tourism Authority’s objective, which is to attract young, wealthy tourists with high purchasing power, increasing the rate of spending per capita. The initial foreign tourist income target of 500 billion baht (about $16.5 billion) has now been lowered to 428 billion baht ($14 billion), which equates to an average spending of 53,500 baht (~ $1,780) per tourist.
Thailand expects to receive 8 million tourists this year, well below the 40 million on average it used to attract before the pandemic.