After partnering with two major airlines to explore blockchain as a distribution platform, travel technology specialist Winding Tree has now teamed up with an entire country.
Following tie-ups with Lufthansa and Air New Zealand, the Swiss-based start-up is working with Aruba to help connect the many small hotels on the Caribbean island directly to potential tourists. A platform will be launched and trialled early next year.
Aruba relies heavily on tourism, with Winding Tree co-founder Pedro Anderson telling TTG he believed the figure was as high as 90%. “Aruba will be the first country to be dependent on blockchain,” he added. “It’s best for hotels, but later in 2018 we will add airlines.”
Winding Tree’s platform is built using Ethereum – a public, decentralised blockchain technology that incorporates “smart contracts” – a type of language that allows developers to write their own programs.
According to reports, Aruba wants to lower its reliance on the likes of Expedia and Priceline, and decrease the amount of tourism revenue getting shipped offshore. Winding Tree will work with the island’s ATECH Foundation, and Anderson said he talked to tourism officials at one of its conferences there earlier this year, adding that the island was particularly forward thinking in its approach to new technologies.
The island also has a “Smart Island Strategy” in place, as it seeks to become a 100% renewable energy destination by 2020. Meanwhile, a separate Caribbean cryptocurrency has been launched, known as bitt, whose aim is to help islands in the region become less dependent on foreign banks. Other countries are also launching their own digital currencies, most notably Venezuela – situated close to Aruba - the most recent. Yesterday, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro announced he intended to launch the “petro”, a currency that will be backed by the country’s reserves of gold, oil, gas, and diamonds.