Thailand tourism board targets wealthy Japanese crypto holders

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In its latest effort to revitalize the kingdom’s pandemic-stricken tourism industry, the Thailand Tourism Authority is targeting cryptocurrency holders from Japan.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) aims to establish the country as the first country to make an effort to welcome holders of cryptocurrencies, especially those from Japan, which it sees as a regional center for crypto activity. The agency has carried out a feasibility study on the implementation of cryptocurrency payments to tourist destinations.

Thailand has been fishing for well-heeled tourists since the industry collapsed in the first quarter of 2020 when Asian nations began closing their borders after the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the Bangkok Post, TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said cryptocurrency could be key to attracting the high rollers:

“If we can prepare the country for the cryptocurrency market, it will help create more opportunities for high-spending tourists, especially the young and affluent generations.”

He added that the use of cryptocurrency needs to be compliant with central bank regulations and measures to prevent money laundering need to be developed.

The agency cites three-year figures for Japan with a crypto ownership rate of 11%. However, recent statistics from Statista for 2020 suggest that they are closer to 4%.

Mr Yuthasak even suggested that Elon Musk would like to visit the kingdom as his company has recently invested heavily in Bitcoin.

“Even Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and crypto influencer, might be interested in visiting Thailand.”

Although Thailand has been relatively open to trading in cryptocurrencies and has a number of exchanges such as Bitkub and the recently opened Upbit, there are very few places across the country that accept digital currencies as a payment method.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism reported tourist arrivals of nearly 40 million a year. That number has declined and has decimated what was once thriving industry as the country remained largely closed to foreigners. The TAT has reduced its target for arrival abroad to just 8 million.