PHOTO: Hawaii wants bitcoin to play a part in its tourism industry. (Photo via Flickr/Zach Copley)
Hawaii is considering a move that could give Bitcoin a bigger role in the tourism industry.
A bill, which received the backing of the House Finance Committee on February 22, calls for the establishment of a group that will study how to implement and regulate block chain technology so that the tourism sector and other industries can take advantage of new digital currencies like Bitcoin.
The bill, officially titled House Bill 1481, explains the reasoning behind the move to make the crypto currency more mainstream in the 50th state:
“Digital currencies such as Bitcoin have broad benefits for Hawaii. A large portion of Hawaii’s tourism market comes from Asia where the use of Bitcoin as a virtual currency is expanding. Hawaii has the unique opportunity to explore the use of block chain technology to make it easier for visitors to consume local goods and services and to drive the tourism economy.”
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Exploring the possibilities
Even if it passes, the bill will not immediately bring universal Bitcoin acceptance to hotels and other venues that cater to tourists. It is merely the first step in the process. The main goal at this point is to decide how to best develop a digital currency infrastructure.
The bill also mentions obtaining insights from the private sector about how to best handle this new kind of money.
The authors, Reps. Mark Nakashima and Chris Lee (both Democrats) are not the first state legislators to tackle Bitcoin. Vermont, North Dakota and Arizona are among the states that are also discussing bills to regulate this form of currency.
In Hawaii’s case, however, the move could have significant implications for international tourism.
Also, some in the crypto currency community are pointing out that, unlike other legislation which is mainly concerned with regulation and the use of block chain data in court, House Bill 1481 paints Bitcoin in a more positive light because it focuses on taking advantage of its benefits rather than controlling potential drawbacks.
Can crypto currency help?
There are some examples of countries that have started to widely accept crypto currency. In Taiwan, Bitcoin can be bought and exchanged for vouchers at many convenience stores and exchanged directly for local currency at sites like Local Bitcoin.
So travelers can indeed benefit not only from the added convenience of dealing in an internationally accepted currency but also from being able to travel without being tied to their home currency.
If the exchange rate for converting Bitcoin into New Taiwan Dollars (NTD) is better than the exchange rate for changing USD into NTD, for example, savvy travelers can take advantage of this to make their trip cheaper by cutting out the foreign exchange disadvantage.
This is the future, not the present
Traveling internationally with nothing but crypto currency is still difficult, but the ability to avoid negative exchange rates (or the convenience of not having the exchange currency at all) is attractive.
In a state like Hawaii, where tourism is so important to the economy, it makes sense to at least explore the possible advantages of wider Bitcoin acceptance.