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 residents of Santa Lucia, such as the owner of the Cesar Andino shopping center, expect the initiative to open more opportunities for shops in the area and “attract more people who want to use this currency,” according to a report by the Honduran newspaper La Prensa. Andino added:
“Accepting Bitcoin will allow us to open another market and acquire more customers. We have to globalize. We cannot close ourselves off to technology and we cannot be left behind when other countries are already doing so.
The program began on July 28, allowing customers from local stores to pay in US dollars, Honduran lempira or Bitcoin (BTC).
The Santa Lucia Municipal Government has developed the Bitcoin Valley program in partnership with the cryptocurrency exchange Coincaex, Blockchain Honduras and the Honduras University of Technology.
Coincaex provides the equipment and services needed to make crypto payments, while Blockchain Honduras provides training on the use of crypto wallets.
Honduras launches “Bitcoin Valley”
More than 60 companies have adopted #bitcoin in the small town of Santa Lucia. They will receive training on new technologies and how to market their products and services. Https://t.co/O8nh543ehG
– Documenting Bitcoin (@DocumentingBTC) July 29, 2022
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 him avoid losses due to price volatility. Therefore, entrepreneurs do not directly receive BTC as payment under this program.
Local entrepreneurs are hoping that Bitcoin Valley can revive tourism spending in the tropical coastal country after suffering a blow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Honduras recorded about $ 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 to allow people to legally pay for goods and services with cryptocurrency.
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El Salvador adopted BTC as its legal tender in 2021 and has made a nationwide effort to educate residents about its usefulness. It has launched a similar tourist attraction “Bitcoin Beach” in the city of El Zonte.
Guatemala has its own “Bitcoin Lake” initiative in the tourist spots around Lake Atitlan in the Sierra Madre mountains. Mayor Cesar Piedrasanta of Panajachel in the region also mined BTC with energy that, according to him, would otherwise go unused and wasted.