One of the most interesting applications of cryptocurrencies will be decentralizing the travel domain.
Imagine you can pay anyone, anywhere in the same currency! This again derives from the cross-border, universal nature of cryptocurrencies, doing away with all of the foreign exchange hassles.
A young lady recently made news for her newfound ambition — tour the world and pay only with cryptocurrencies. Jaide Barclay decided to visit 13 cities across 6 countries in March 2019, and blogged about it here. There isn’t an update on how well the tour ended, but she did talk about having to wheel her suitcase from the station to her hotel — cabs don’t accept crypto yet.
Travelers love to enjoy trends, from homestays and eco-tourism to becoming digital nomads. Crypto tourism could be the next fad, once essential services open up to accepting crypto. But the industry’s response is both hot and cold. Expedia began accepting bitcoin in 2014 and then backed out sometime in 2018 due to high volatility of the currency. On the other hand, many projects are trying to utilize blockchain to make things more efficient, secure and coordinated.
Blockchain has several use cases for the travel industry — for loyalty programs that can be used across services, less commissions or exchange fees, tracking of baggage, and the ability to pay with a single cryptocurrency. The elimination of intermediaries like OTAs will be a big plus as well.
Crypto-friendly cities can thus be heard of attracting tourists. The Bitcoin city in Slovenia, Malaccha in Malaysia are meant for global tourists and shoppers. New York, London and Singapore too are in the list of being crypto friendly.
In Australia, Agnes Water is the latest to join the small list places that advertise crypto as their main attraction. A small place on the eastern coast of Australia, this place has 40–50 merchants accepting major cryptocurrencies like Litecoin, Bitcoin and Ether. To avoid volatility related issues, the payment is immediately converted into fiat. In Australia, thousands of crypto transactions have been recorded at shops, and on one day, as many as 15 in a month, as reported by Blockcrypto.com.
Tourists can now book flights in crypto at some airports, and some duty free shops accept crypto as well. Singapore Airlines has launched KrisPay wallet that converts miles flown into crypto, which can be spent at 18 outlets, as per a report.
One application of blockchain in tourism will be identity management. A travel’s data and passport information can be tracked across the sojourn, and thus reduce waiting times for paper work or talking to officials. In operations, blockchain will assist with group bookings and managing supply chains.
A recent article in Forbes by David Petersson describes the current state of blockchain projects, with over 70% still without workings products. The article considers travel and tourism as one of the best places to watch for blockchain to rise again.