Honduras attracts crypto-investor tourists with Bitcoin Valley

Honduras attracts crypto-investor tourists with Bitcoin Valley
Honduras attracts crypto-investor tourists with Bitcoin Valley

A small tourist town in Honduras has begun accepting Bitcoin payments as part of the “Bitcoin Valley” initiative designed to boost tourism revenue across 60 local businesses.

Some locals in Santa Lucia, such as mall owner Cesar Andino, expect the initiative to open up more opportunities for stores in the area and “attract more people who want to use this currency,” according to a report by Honduran news agency La Prensa. Andino added:

“Accepting Bitcoin will allow us to open another market and win more customers. We need to globalize. We cannot close ourselves off from technology and we cannot be left behind when other countries are already doing it.”

The program started on July 28, allowing customers in local stores to pay with US dollars, Honduran Lempira or Bitcoin (BTC).

Santa Lucia’s municipal government developed the Bitcoin Valley program in conjunction with the Coincaex crypto exchange, Blockchain Honduras and the Technological University of Honduras.

Coincaex provides the equipment and services needed to perform crypto payments, while Blockchain Honduras provides training on the use of crypto wallets.

La Prensa explained that although customers can pay for goods and services in BTC, they will send the coins to the Coincaex exchange. The exchange immediately sends the value of BTC in Lempira to the seller to help them avoid losses from price volatility. Therefore, business owners do not directly receive BTC as payment under this scheme.

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Local business owners hope the Bitcoin Valley will revive tourism spending in the tropical coastal country after taking a major hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Honduras had about $556 million in annual tourism spending in 2019, before falling more than 66% in 2020 to $189 million, according to data from Macrotrends, a global economic tracker.

Honduras joins a small handful of countries in the region that have launched similar programs to allow people to legally pay for goods and services with cryptocurrency.

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El Salvador adopted BTC as legal tender in 2021 and launched a nationwide effort to educate citizens about its utility. It has launched a similar “Bitcoin Beach” tourist attraction in the town of El Zonte.

Guatemala has its “Bitcoin Lake” initiative at tourist spots around Lake Atitlan in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Mayor Cesar Piedrasanta of Panajachel in the region has also mined BTC with energy that he says would otherwise be unused and wasted.