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Thailand Aims to Attract Crypto Rich in Latest Tourism Push

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • Thai tourism department wants to make using crypto easier.
  • Government and regulators remain cautious.
  • Tourism industry still battered despite "soft-opening."
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The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is angling to attract wealthy crypto investors in its latest effort to revive the battered tourism industry in the Southeast Asian Kingdom.

The state tourism department is targeting “newly-minted crypto millionaires” as it attempts to breathe life into its decimated tourism industry.

As reported by Bloomberg last week, TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn is teaming up with local crypto companies and exchanges to begin accepting crypto for travel.

The tourism-dependent nation has lost $80 billion in revenue due to the pandemic. It once boasted as many as 40 million international arrivals per year before Covid.

Supasorn wants to make it easier for the crypto elite to spend their digital assets in the Kingdom,

If they can use their currencies here without having to exchange it, or be faced with government taxes, then it would create convenience for them.

Mixed messages on crypto

There have been mixed messages regarding cryptocurrency adoption in Thailand with the military-backed government, central bank, and financial regulators largely frowning upon crypto assets.

Digital assets are not legal tender in Thailand and there are very few places that accept Bitcoin, let alone any other digital currencies as payment methods. In May, the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Office announced that as of July, crypto exchanges must physically verify the identities of new customers in person.

The TAT also wants to launch its own token called TAT Coin as part of this new “cryptourism” drive in order to attract digital nomads. The infrastructure is ready to go according to a Bangkok Post article last week, but it is waiting for government approval.

“Crypto is the future, so we must make Thailand a crypto-positive society to welcome this group of quality tourists,” Yuthasak said. He does not expect tourism numbers to return to pre-Covid levels until 2024.

The Thai tourism board tried something similar in February when they targeted wealthy Japanese crypto holders, however, the results were underwhelming.

No Thai tourism revival yet

Thailand has been in lockdown and effectively closed to foreigners since March 2020. COVID-19 numbers have fallen significantly, yet the government has been very cautious about reopening and easing restrictions.

Despite a soft “re-opening” on Nov 1 for vaccinated travelers from 60 countries, there have been just a handful of tourist arrivals to the once-popular holiday destination. Arrival quarantine procedures have been largely relaxed but many tourism businesses remain shuttered and there are still heavy restrictions on entertainment, nightlife, and alcohol which are the things many tourists generally seek when heading to Thailand.

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Martin Young
Martin Young is a seasoned cryptocurrency journalist and editor with over 7 years of experience covering the latest news and trends in the digital asset space. He is passionate about making complex blockchain, fintech, and macroeconomics concepts understandable for mainstream audiences.   Martin has been featured in top finance, technology, and crypto publications including BeInCrypto, CoinTelegraph, NewsBTC, FX Empire, and Asia Times. His articles provide an in-depth analysis of...