Germany’s Tourist Board to Accept Crypto Payments

Tourists will be able to pay for their travels with Bitcoin and other major digital coins.

by Kalina Tekelieva
05 March • 3 min
In News

The German National Tourism Board (GNTB) has decided to allow payments via digital currencies and has agreed to test blockchain technology in its finances, it said in a press release on Monday.

From now on, both German and international tourists will be able to pay for GNTB services with Bitcoin (BTC) and other major virtual currencies in any of the Board’s 32 offices worldwide.

At the same time, the organization will examine blockchain technology, which lies behind cryptocurrencies, to see if it could possibly be introduced in international payment systems in the medium term. The GNTB said it is attracted to the technology, as it offers fast, transparent and secure payments.

Chairwoman Petra Hedorfer explained that the change in policy reflects the GNTB’s digitization strategy. Being a global company, the Board seeks to be considered as an innovation driver, according to Hedorfer.

Tourism in Germany

According to statistics by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), tourism in Germany accounts for 3.9% of the country’s GDP, the GNTB wrote in its 2017 report published in February.

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Last year, incoming tourism marked a 3.6% increase on an annual basis, which was the eighth year in a row with a positive development. The GNTB highlighted also that international tourism generated around EUR 37 billion in 2017, or nearly 30% of tourist consumption in Germany.

Blockchain and crypto adopted in tourism

The GNTB, whose main objectives are to promote tourism to Germany and enhance the positive image of German tourist destinations globally, is not alone on the market to combine tourism with cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

The German-based TUI Group, one of the largest tourism firms worldwide, moved its hotel technology into a blockchain in August 2017. With the introduction of blockchain, TUI seeks to free its business from intermediaries, CEO Fritz Joussen told Skift. The publication highlighted that blockchain is a cheap investment which helps cut costs.

Singapore Airlines made a step in a similar direction, when it announced plans to implement blockchain tech for air miles spending. The company announced in early February it will launch a blockchain-based wallet which its frequent flyers will use to spend their accumulated miles.

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Moreover, a variety of cryptocurrencies have been launched to address different aspects of tourism. Just to name a few - the TOA coin is meant to facilitate online bookings of trips, Travel Coin is developed as a ticketing system, and the JIO Token offers discounted membership packages.

As virtual currencies and blockchain tech are increasingly being introduced in the tourism sector, the GNTB’s decision to allow crypto payments fits well in the industry trends.