The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has floated the idea of launching its own utility token -- the TAT Coin -- to capitalise on a growing market of holders of cryptocurrencies, but first needs to consider the relevant regulations and viability before getting started.
TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the TAT is currently in discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the possibility of introducing the TAT Coin, which would involve the transfer of vouchers into digital tokens that could help operators gain greater liquidity. However, the token could not be speculated upon for the purpose of trading.
Moreover, the TAT, which is a state agency, would have to discuss the matter further with related organisations as to whether or not it has the authority to issue this type of digital token.
Mr Yuthasak said technology, including cryptocurrency, is changing the world so the TAT had to take the opportunity to enhance the competitiveness of the tourism supply chain which suffered from the pandemic with a short-term plan to attract potential travellers to accelerate tourism income.
The world's largest cryptocurrency holding nations include China, Japan, South Korea, the US, as well as Europe, while countries with a high level of currency volatility such as Venezuela, Argentina and Nigeria also have growing cryptocurrency markets.
"We have to prepare digital infrastructure and digital literacy for our tourism operators in order to commence cryptourism as the traditional business model might not be able to keep up with the new changes," Mr Yuthasak said.
As a long-term plan, the TAT aims to develop the country's tourism platform, covering both business and leisure tourism, with Bitkub, a local cryptocurrency exchange, featuring the TAT Coin or another type of cryptocurrency such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to spur demand from the crypto market.
NFTs, which represents ownership of a unique item by merging the digital economy and the real world, can be used for boosting traffic at specific touristic areas, but this digital asset is not yet legal in Thailand.
Currently, the global market cap for cryptocurrencies stands at US$2 trillion or four times higher than Thailand's GDP, compared to $800 billion four years ago, representing the fastest-growing industry, according to Jirayut Srupsrisopa, chief executive of Bitkub Capital Group Holdings.
The workcation trend also benefits long-stay crypto nomads who can work from anywhere and are considered as being big spenders for the tourism industry.
The TAT can start developing a cryptourism atmosphere by offering a bitcoin debit card at airports which crypto nomads can use during their trips without paying an extra fee at the ATM or money exchange.