In the hopes of increasing tourism spending, several businesses in Santa Lucia are now taking Bitcoin. A tiny Honduran tourist town has started accepting Bitcoin (BTC) payments as part of the Bitcoin Valley project with the goal of boosting overall tourism income across 60 local merchants.
Cesar Andino, a shopping mall owner in Santa Lucia, told reporters that he expects the new initiative will bring more opportunities to shops in the area and “attract more people who want to use this currency.” The program started on Thursday and allows patrons of local shops to pay with United States dollars, Honduran Lempira, or Bitcoin.
The municipal government of Santa Lucia collaborated with the Coincaex crypto exchange, Blockchain Honduras, and the Technological University of Honduras to launch the Bitcoin Valley initiative. The use of crypto wallets is being taught at Blockchain Honduras.
According to La Prensa, although consumers may buy products and services with BTC, they will be sending them to the Coincaex exchange. The value of the BTC is then delivered to the merchant immediately so that they can avoid price fluctuations. As a result, company owners do not directly receive BTC as payment under this plan.
Local business owners in Honduras are hoping that the Bitcoin Valley will help bring back some of the revenue from tourism spending. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Honduras saw approximately $556 million annually from tourism spending.
However, during 2020 there was a more than 66% drop to only $189 million according to data gathered by Macrotrends, an economic tracker spanning globally. Honduras is one of a few countries in the Caribbean that has implemented a similar program for people to legally pay for items and services using cryptocurrency.