The travel industry is considered as the fastest-growing economic sector in the world. According to the report of the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), it provides about 10% of the global GDP and 30% of total export of services. For some countries, for example, Aruba, Malta, the Maldives, Cape Verde and others, tourism has become the main driver of socio-economic development through the creation of jobs, infrastructure and export revenues.
At the same time, more and more people visit other countries with tourism purposes every year. When in 2016 the number of international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) reached a total of 1.235 billion worldwide, then by 2030 it’s expected to exceed 1.8 billion.
The tourism industry is very dynamic. Developing at a fast pace, it absorbs new trends, hi-tech features, and ideas. While a century ago, traveling was a luxury accessible to the small group of people, now journeys have become a part of the lifestyle of millions, largely thanks to the adoption of new digital technologies. In particular, appeared GPS navigators that replaced inconvenient paper maps, reservation systems like Booking.com or Expedia, through which you can book accommodation quickly and easily. In addition, travelers discovered such services as Airbnb and Uber, began to actively use mobile money for payments.
While these concepts have already proved their usefulness and have ingrained in the modern tourism, the soaring blockchain technologies are just on their way. Recently the world has been overwhelmed with the news about companies that are beginning to implement them in their business. Today we are on the verge of a new reality, and obviously, those who adapt to changes first will be the winners in a competitive race.
Upending the industry with blockchain
In tourism using blockchain is a win-win for both sides: travelers and service providers. It can be applied to ensure security, privacy, and accuracy of shared information. First of all, that refers to financial data and users’ ID details. Travel industry holds astronomical amounts of vulnerable personal information such as passports, bank accounts, and even people’s income records. Keeping all these pieces on the distributed ledger, blockchain is able to protect them from fraud, hacking and misuse.
Moreover, it can reshape the way travelers book flights and accommodation. With decentralized technologies, they’ll have a much cheaper and more appealing alternative to traditional Booking.com or Airbnb. Proof algorithms which form the bases of blockchain network guarantee that a hotel or an airline would receive a payment from a customer in a seamless and fast way. Meanwhile, as the intermediaries would be eliminated from the process, travelers won’t have to pay extra commission fees.
By the way, similar solutions already exist in the tourism market. The blockchain version of Airbnb was created by the Rentberry company. Smart contracts help to handle relations between tenants and lords in a more reliable and transparent manner, with all agreements being written on the blockchain ledger.
Another curious startup uses blockchain to make travel cheaper for consumers and more profitable for suppliers is the Swiss Winding Tree. It’s a decentralized open-source travel distribution platform, which allows airlines and hotels to connect with travel operators and agencies directly, without centralized control of big market players, excessive fees and barriers for entry. Winding Tree established partnerships with Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines to bring the new technologies to the travel industry.
Crypto paradise for travelers
Blockchain can enhance travelers experience in many ways, but the most anticipated is, of course, paying with cryptocurrency.
The number of people owning cryptocurrencies is increasing daily. According to the recent studies, in 2017 the total value of all cryptocurrencies grew by over 3300% to over $600 billion. In the USA alone, over 16.3 million citizens own digital coins and tokens.
Blockchain throws down a challenge to the traditional methods of payment, and the most tech-savvy companies are actively adapting to the new realities. Doubtless, the technology makes a big difference in financial transfers. It facilitates international payments so that travelers don’t need to exchange currencies multiple times, thus saving their time and cutting off additional commission expenditures.
No less importantly, the adoption of cryptocurrencies as a payment provides a significant competitive advantage to the whole tourist region, making it attractive to millions of virtual coin holders around the world. This market niche is still vacant and those who occupy it will definitely become innovation drivers with a bright future.
In fact, such pioneers have already begun to appear. In particular, in March 2018 the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) announced that they’re now accepting cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for its services. The company’s aim is to represent Germany as an attractive travel destination and they believe being crypto-friendly will contribute to that a lot.
A similar idea is realized by the Asian Noah Project powered by non-profit Noah Foundation. The company implements several blockchain projects that would allow locals, expats and travelers to take advantage of the innovative digital technologies — send and receive money transfers in virtual currency, use it to pay for products and services and even enjoy a luxury vacation on the Philippines.
The creators of the Noah project admit:
The rise of blockchain is inevitable. Today people expect to access what they need in a fast, simple and convenient way. If a person wants to get his confidential data protected, he should get it. If an expat wants to transfer money to his family at home easily, he should get it. And, obviously, if he wants to pay for traveling with virtual money — we should think about that. You cannot ignore these technological trends, as they’re not going anywhere. But you should be among the first to bring them to the world.
The Noah Project is among these “the first”. Since its start in 2016, the company has been developing the Noah Ecosystem, where its own infrastructural token — Noah Coin — will be used. The ecosystem comprises of various services, and beach vacations are among them. The Noah Project partners Dakak Beach Resort on the Philippines to create with Noah Resort, where the company’s token will be accepted as a payment method. With Noah Coin travelers will be able not only to sunbathe but also get will exclusive access to all the facilities of the resort, including 3 tennis courts, horseback riding, golf course, rock climbing, kayaking, scuba diving, river and sunset cruises. The Noah Resort aims to open a whole new travel experience when people won’t need to worry about currency exchanges — all they need is the wireless connection and a blockchain wallet.