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Cryptocurrency & the Tourism Industry

Emerging in 2009, many consider Bitcoin to be the first established cryptocurrency. Since then, the whole concept of digital currency has gained immense popularity with investors, both professional and rookie, with thousands of digital currencies available on the market today.

For most of us, crypto still seems like a world unknown. You’ll hear it on the tv and radio, see it talked about and advertised on the internet, and you may have that one Facebook friend who claims to be an expert on it. But do we average Joes all fully understand what cryptocurrency is?

Cryptocurrency is a virtual asset secured by a technique called cryptography(opens in a new tab) and the word ‘cryptocurrency’ derives from the practice of encrypting the network itself. Two of the most attractive qualities are that most cryptocurrencies are decentralised based on blockchain technology(opens in a new tab) (another world in itself), meaning no authority can control, regulate, or manipulate it. Secondly, the way that it’s created means it’s nearly impossible to counterfeit and because they come from no economic base, they are also inflation proof.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Crypto also has a large base of critics(opens in a new tab) arguing that they facilitate illegal activity, incredibly unpredictable exchange rate volatility (meaning in, certain cases, a small group of people with a large amount of a certain coin can influence trade), and scalability issues meaning many experts question if they could ever reach the payment processing levels of Visa and Mastercard. There are also concerns about the environmental impact of mining the coins(opens in a new tab), and there are doubts surrounding cybersecurity.

How Crypto Payments Work

As more users invest and subsequently have more coins to spend, governments and businesses are warming to the idea of allowing consumers to purchase goods and services from their digital wallets. El Salvador’s government, for example, passed a law in 2021(opens in a new tab) that makes Bitcoin legal tender within its borders. More governments are looking to follow suit.

However, it’s still quite selective in terms of what coins are accepted where, both online and in-store, but the obvious frontrunner is Bitcoin. Bitcoin is used to pay for a whole array of things(opens in a new tab) including items on the Microsoft Store, donate to Wikipedia, settle your AT&T bill, and much more.

But how do you pay with crypto(opens in a new tab)?(opens in a new tab) There are a number of payment gateways that allow you to pay with digital coins. The Coinbase app is a quick and safe way for both merchants and consumers alike, Blockonomics is another example, NOWPayments another, Coingate’s popular too, and many more. There are various ways the payments work from scanning QR codes to their compatibility with eCommerce platforms, with each gateway different to the last.

What’s Happening in Tourism

Can I travel solely with crypto? In theory, it’s possible. The tourism industry has one of the most comprehensive lists of businesses that accept digital currencies. Aside from Bitcoin having its own dedicated travel site(opens in a new tab), travel giants Expedia(opens in a new tab) also allow customers to pay with crypto alongside many other agencies like Travala(opens in a new tab), CheapAir(opens in a new tab), and the world’s first airline to accept cryptocurrency, Air Baltic(opens in a new tab).

Can I pay for tours with crypto? Short answer, yes. Our long-time customers and friends over at Caribbean Sea Adventures(opens in a new tab) can also help answer this one:

A blue and white board with a QR code on a boat in front of a tropical paradise

Coinbase is their chosen payment method. Guests can pay with any Coinbase-friendly coin to visit the beautiful Buck Island National Reef Monument in the USVI.

Tour operators offer a wide range of payment methods(opens in a new tab) to process online bookings. The most popular payment option is a booking software integration. However, with cryptocurrency becoming widely available to the masses, having that additional option to accept traveller’s digital currency may come as an advantage to your tour business.

Coinbase integrates with Shopify(opens in a new tab) and WooCommerce(opens in a new tab), meaning smooth integrations onto your website. Blocknomics(opens in a new tab) offer customers an attractive checkout display linked to your eCommerce store, with NOWPayments(opens in a new tab) advertising “accept Bitcoin, Ethereum and 100+ cryptos on your website, store, and social media accounts globally.”

But where is cryptocurrency going?(opens in a new tab) It’s anyone’s guess, and we could write an entire 50-page article about which expert thinks what. The bottom line is it’s still young and without any history to base predictions on, no one can say for sure. However, having these payment options for the short to mid-term future could prove beneficial in the long term. We advise that you do your research and see if cryptocurrency could potentially work for your tour business.

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