Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, was speaking after a meeting with a technology association promoting closer ties between the kingdom and Japan. He outlined a vision of the country becoming a playground for the likes of high rollers such as Elon Musk, one of the world’s foremost and wealthiest technology entrepreneurs.
Thailand’s top tourism executive has announced a plan to make the kingdom cryptocurrency-friendly to ‘big fish’ tourists as the country still plots to adapt the industry to a new high tech, high net worth future.
The Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced that the country, in the post-pandemic era, will be focusing its marketing to foreign tourists on the ‘the big fish in the market’ as he outlined plans for the state agency to promote Thailand as a country where foreign visitors can easily spend cryptocurrency holdings.
Currently, Thailand’s borders are effectively closed to tourists from foreign countries with onerous entry requirements which saw the country lose 99.83% of its once-thriving foreign tourism market in the last eight months of 2020 due to Covid-19 measures to protect the kingdom’s population.
Prospects of reopening in 2021 dwindling
Since then, the prospects for reopening to this market, which previously earned it ฿2 trillion a year, are dwindling for 2021.
Last week, Mr Yuthasak had his eyes set firmly on the future and revealed the kingdom may be a target destination for pioneer businessmen such as Elon Musk, the man behind Paypal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
Thailand targeting the likes of Elon Musk
He told reporters that Mr Musk and people like him will be more interested in visiting Thailand if they can spend their money using the new digital currencies.
Mr Musk recently invested $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency and allowed the use of bitcoin for Tesla customers.
New high-tech vision of Thai tourism
The TAT governor credited his latest initiative to transform Thailand’s foreign tourism sector to a high tech vision after consultations with the Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan) where he learned cryptocurrency was rapidly being taken up by the Japanese public especially among the young.
Japan currently owns 11% of the world’s cryptocurrency holdings.
It comes as the value of bitcoin continues to soar and is now worth ฿1,694,719 or over $56,500.
Must liaise with the Thai hospitality sector already facing a crisis and possible death spiral
Mr Yuthasak explained the practicalities behind his latest move and the benefits.
‘If this idea is successful, Thailand will be one of the countries where cryptocurrency can be spent in the tourism sector,’ he disclosed.
He explained his agency will be reaching out to the Thai hotel and restaurant sector to brief them and prepare them to accept cryptocurrency payments.
The problem is, in the last few days, key leaders within the foreign tourism sector such as the President of the Thai Hotels Association, Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi have been ringing alarm bells about a possible death spiral for a large number of business concerns that have run out of time because the country, effectively remains closed to its traditional tourist market, two to three-week holidaymakers seeking sunshine and fun.
The industry representative estimated 50% of Thai hotels are now closed amid heightened concerns within financial circles of an avalanche of property foreclosures looming.
Governor, acknowledging the dark side of cryptocurrencies, to consult with the central bank
The TAT boss acknowledged that there were some concerns about cryptocurrency use, an issue high on the radar of the Royal Thai Police in recent months who have linked it with criminal activity such as drug dealing and online fraud.
He also accepted the matter must be discussed with the Bank of Thailand.
Japan and Thailand leading the way
Mr Yuthasak outlined how the Japanese hospitality sector has already adapted to the use of cryptocurrency with some new business even building their names on the new trend.
Cryptocurrency trading and holdings have also become increasingly popular in Thailand among urban professionals and young people.
The country’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, Bitkub, in January, reported daily trading volumes as high as ฿6 billion.