Honduras Attracts Crypto Investor Tourists With Bitcoin Valley

A small tourist town in Honduras has started accepting bitcoin payments as part of the “Bitcoin Valley” initiative designed to increase tourism revenue for 60 local businesses.

Some Santa Lucia residents, like 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 one. report by the Honduran newspaper La Prensa. Andino added:

“Accepting bitcoin will allow us to open another market and gain more customers. We need to globalize. We cannot shut 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 at local stores to pay in US dollars, Honduran lempira or Bitcoin (BTC).

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

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

La Prensa explained that while customers can pay for goods and services in BTC, they will send the coins to the Coincaex exchange. The exchange then instantly sends the value of BTC in Lempira to the trader to help them avoid losses due to price volatility. Therefore, business owners do not directly receive BTC as a payment under this program.

Local business owners are hoping Bitcoin Valley will revive tourism spending in the tropical coastal country after taking a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Honduras recorded around $556 million in annual tourism spending in 2019 before dropping 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 for people to legally pay for goods and services with cryptocurrency.

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El Salvador adopted BTC as legal tender in 2021 and has made a nationwide effort to educate residents about its usefulness. He 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 go unused and wasted.