Thailand is looking to lure the crypto wealthy to its shores in a bid to recoup tourism revenues lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
Per Bloomberg, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is working with regulators and a local cryptocurrency exchange to make it easier for crypto holders to spend their digital assets in the country. Next year, according to TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, the authority will set up a new unit to issue its own cryptocurrency, develop a wallet, and build a new tourism ecosystem.
Yuthasak told the outlet that people who have "become wealthy from holding digital currencies" may now be looking to spend it. He added that "if they can use their currencies here without having to exchange it, or be faced with government taxes, then it would create convenience for them."
Thailand's crypto push to revive tourism
Yuthasak said that embracing crypto would help the country in its bid to recover pre-pandemic tourism levels, saying that, “Crypto is the future, so we must make Thailand a crypto-positive society to welcome this group of quality tourists,” According to Statista, the number of international tourist arrivals plunged from 39.8 million in 2019 to just 6.7 million in 2020.
Tourism's contribution to Thailand's GDP accordingly dropped from 18.21% in 2019 to 6.78% in 2020.
"If Thailand is looking to recover about 80% of its pre-pandemic tourism revenue in 2023 but with half the number of foreign tourist arrivals we saw in 2019, we can achieve that by getting someone like Russell Crowe or a crypto holder like Tim Cook to travel here," he argued; Apple CEO Tim Cook recently revealed that he holds some crypto personally.
From November 2021, vaccinated international travelers who have stayed in one of 63 countries for 21 days can travel to Thailand without having to go into quarantine (beyond a one-night stay in a government-approved hotel while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test).
The TAT is banking on a million tourists traveling to the country in the first quarter of 2022 and eventually hopes that 10% of tourists will be crypto holders.