Agnes Water, a small beach community in Queensland, Australia has launched itself as the nation’s first ‘digital currency town’, hoping to attract tech travelers and digital nomads in order to boost its tourism.
When you think of Australia, certain things come to mind: the Sydney Opera House, cheap wine in bags and kangaroos, not to mention just about every deadly animal you can think of. But Agnes Water, a small community about 400km north of Brisbane is attempting to add crypto-tourism to that list as well.
The town is the closest access point to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, and naturally relies heavily on tourism for its economy. The town, home to only two-thousand permanent residents, is attempting to draw tech savvy travelers to its jurisdiction by creating a local cryptocurrency payment infrastructure.
In spite of the town’s small size, more than 30 local businesses, from hotels and hostels to tour operators and restaurants have begun accepting Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin and NEM as payment options for products and services. The payment infrastructure is provided by Ausie start-up, ‘TravelbyBit’.
The town’s progressive move toward crypto is the brainchild of local real estate agent, Gordon Christian. He was inspired by another local business owner who wanted to accept bitcoin as payment from a customer, but did not know how. Following some research, Christian found that Brisbane airport contained several stores which were accepting cryptocurrencies as payment and thought the same could be done in Agnes Water.
Discussing how the project gained momentum, Christian explained, “We started from the ground up, shared it with a couple of businesses and they were straight on board … I guess they were international travelers themselves and had heard of these types of payments.”
With tourism being the primary industry of Agnes Water, remaining attractive to tourists is critical. Local tour operator, Arty Cipak said simply, “If it’s going to take cryptocurrency to get tourists to town, then bring it on.”
TravelbyBit CEO, Caleb Yeoh said that whilst, they have businesses all over the country which use their platform, tiny Agnes Water has the highest concentration in the whole country.
“The town has made a very strategic move in trying to appeal to a niche market to take perhaps some of those tourists … to come out to their little part of the woods,” he explained.
“If you travel around the world you have to deal with multiple currencies, the exchange rate can be confusing, sometimes you struggle to find ATMs, and sometimes you get swindled by money changers. Traveling with one global currency like Bitcoin … makes sense.”
Image Source: “Flickr”
Alex has been putting words on paper since he was old enough to hold a pen; when he bought his first bitcoin in January 2017, those words discovered their place within crypto as well. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his special expertise lies in European cryptocurrency regulation.