With over 108 million visitors in 2015 and growing, Southeast Asia’s relaxing beaches, backpacking opportunities, and incredible food have made this region a hotbed for tourism. The rich cultural history of this region attracts young travelers from all over the world. This new market, however, comes with some serious structural challenges.
With gross booking costs rising to $53.7 billion in 2016, a large strain has been placed on the travel infrastructure in the region. Many travelers rely on small, off-line tour companies to book their trips. These companies, however, often charge high fees and limit tourists’ options while traveling in the region. And with sites like Chiang Mai’s Wat Phra Sing and Singapore’s Garden by the Bay, tourists can’t afford to be limited on their once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
That’s where blockchain comes in. With the advent of smart contacts, token incentives, and social networks, a new wave of decentralised travel companies have sprung up in this area. Capitalising on the cooperative and creative advantages of blockchain technology, companies are beginning to offer new platforms for travel that match tourists’ increasingly technological lifestyle and desire for alternative experiences.
Let’s highlight two of the major players in this rapidly growing field
Navibration, a decentralised routes social network built on blockchain technology, was one of the first entrants to this space. Navibration allows users to create, edit, and publish audio-guided tours across the world, and smart contracts allow for users to be fairly compensated for their contributions to the network.
Token incentives make it so that users can be assured that their investment will result in access to hundreds of new routes, and the fact that each audio tour is actually given by a famous historical figure from that city is only an added bonus.
Furthermore, Navibration also tackles a major issue for travelers in the region — inconsistent internet and difficulties getting around. With geolocation technology, Navibration’s app doesn’t even require internet to guide tourists around using their patented navigation by vibration technology. And with products on the way such as the Navibration watch and walking stick, this product could rise to capture the travel market millenials love.
Another startup in this area is Tripio, which uses digital ledger technologies to connect travelers with service providers. Using the powers of smart contracts, Tripio is creating a credit system that rewards users and hotels for positive behaviour, which helps to combat the oftentimes uncertain travel conditions in the region. Deploying a combination of dApps and intelligent tokens, Tripio has already garnered over 100,000 users and is continuing to grow.
These two companies, along with a host of others, are poised to contribute to the rapidly-changing technological tourism landscape. Southeast Asia is a wonderful region, but it can be stressful for travelers. Worries over pricing, tour availability, and navigation may be alleviated by the decentralised travel companies that are rapidly entering the market. Blockchain technology is breaking down borders and helping to open up the region to a new generation of travelers.
As time progresses, blockchain technology will continue to influence travel in Southeast Asia. Cryptocurrencies have become incredible widespread in Southeast Asia, and travelers who used to exchange money in every new company on their trip will find the flexibility of a virtual wallet enticing.
In fact, OmiseGo, a Thailand-based cryptocurrency market, has linked with AliPay to make it easier than ever to pay for goods and services across Thailand using cryptocurrency. These networks are poised to continue disrupting the travel industry, creating a more efficient, simpler travel platform for all.
Blockchain has made its mark on traveling in Southeast Asia – and it’s here to stay.
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