The Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) has claimed a new blockchain tourism project will “ring in a new era of innovation” for the island, and could help attract a younger type of holidaymaker.
Swiss-based technology start-up Winding Tree has announced a new project with Aruba’s ATECH foundation (a conference organiser and start-up incubator programme) to help connect hotels directly to potential tourists. A platform will be launched and trialled early next year. Over the past few months, Winding Tree has also announced similar partnerships with Lufthansa and Air New Zealand to explore distribution.
The ATA told TTG it was not directly involved in the project, but that it supported the initiative, which is reportedly part of a plan to decrease the amount of tourism revenue getting shipped offshore, via bookings through the likes of Booking.com and Expedia.
“We are currently exploring ways to collaborate with the local travel community to promote inclusivity. The partnership between Winding Tree and ATECH can help expedite the adoption of blockchain and similar breakthrough technologies in Aruba and help local entrepreneurs break through existing barriers. This rings in a new era of innovation for Aruba, which will set the tone for the rest of the Caribbean,” it said.
Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, ATA chief executive, added: “As an award-winning digital destination, travel innovation and adoption of efficient technologies will always be at the forefront of our goals as a destination marketing and management organisation. We encourage our stakeholders to adopt and experiment with new technologies so we can always stay two steps ahead. We are eager to test blockchain in Aruba and are following the developments in this space closely.”
ATA insisted however that “OTAs would not go away completely”.
“Agents like Expedia and Priceline, and many others, are all important partners of Aruba,” the tourism body added. “We will continue to work together with these established platforms. This will go hand in hand with supporting new forward-thinking platforms and ideas that may help attract new markets and target groups that are important to the island, such as millennials and Generation Z… We understand some local tech start-ups offering experiences might be the first to test the platform.”
While the ATA said it was not aware if any tour operators had been invited to take part, the authority said this could change once the pilot begins.
The island also has a “Smart Island Strategy” as it seeks to become a 100% renewable energy destination by 2020. Meanwhile, a separate digital currency called “bitt”, also based on blockchain, has been developed for the Caribbean region.
It aims to help countries become less dependent on foreign banks.