Many businesses in the tourist town of Santa Lucia are now accepting Bitcoin payments with high hopes of spurring tourism spending.
A small tourist town in Honduras has started accepting Bitcoin payments as part of the “Bitcoin Valley” initiative that was designed to increase tourism revenue across 60 local businesses.
Some of the locals of Santa Lucia, including mall owner Cesar Andino, expect the initiative to open up more chances for shops in the area and “attract more people who want to use this currency,” based on a report from Honduran news outlet La Prensa. Andino added:
“Accepting Bitcoin will allow us to open another market and win more customers. We have to globalize. We cannot close ourselves off from technology, and we cannot be left behind when other countries are already doing it.”
The program launched on July 28, enabling patrons of local area shops to pay with US dollars, Honduran Lempira, or Bitcoin (BTC). Santa Lucia’s municipal government developed the Bitcoin Valley program in conjunction with Blockchain Honduras, the Coincaex crypto exchange, and the Technological University of Honduras.
Coincaex is offering the equipment and services required to perform and execute crypto payments, while Blockchain Honduras is offering education on the use of cryptocurrency wallets.
Honduras launches 'Bitcoin Valley' 🇭🇳
— Documenting Bitcoin 📄 (@DocumentingBTC) July 29, 2022
La Prensa said that although clients can pay for goods and services using Bitcoin, they will just be sending the coins to the Coincaex exchange. The exchange then speedily sends the Value of the BTC in Lempira to the merchants to enable them to avoid loss from price volatility. Thus, business owners do not directly get Bitcoin as payment under this scheme.
Local business owners are hoping that the Bitcoin Valley will re-spark tourism spending in the tropical coastal nation after taking a massive hit during the Coronavirus pandemic. Honduras enjoyed nearly $556 million in annual tourism spending in 2019 before dropping by over 66% in 2021 to $189 million based on data from Macrotrends, an extensive global economic tracker.
Honduras joins several nations in the region that have unleashed similar programs for people to legally pay for goods and services with crypto.
El Salvador famously adopted Bitcoin as legal tender in 2021 and rolled out a nationwide effort to educate residents on its utility. It has also launched a similar ‘Bitcoin Beach’ tourist attraction located in the town of El Zonte.
Guatemala has its ‘Bitcoin Lake’ initiative at tourism sites surrounding Lake Atitlan in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Mayor Cesar Piedrasanta of Panajachel in the area has also been mining Bitcoin with energy that he says would otherwise be wasted and unused.