Traveling to Aruba is something that’s on many wish lists. Up until now, the international travel and tourism industry has held a monopoly on tourist business to the tropical destination. However, the government of Aruba is considering the blockchain to put more travel dollars in their pockets instead.
Aruba’s population is only a little over 100,000, yet 1.2 million people visit the island every year on vacation. The island’s main business is tourism.
Businesses like Priceline, Expedia and other online travel agencies, (also called OTA’s), control pricing trends and sell almost all of the travel packages to Aruba. Therefore, most of the people making money on Aruba tourism don’t even live there. In fact, most of them live in other countries like the USA.
Time for a Change
Winding Tree, a startup from Switzerland has begun working with the ATECH Foundation, (an organization focused on technological development in Aruba), to develop an online travel booking marketplace based on a blockchain platform.
Instead of launching the next Expedia copycat, ATECH is using the Winding Tree platform, (based on the Ethereum blockchain), to connect hospitality providers and tourists directly with one another. One benefit of working with this platform instead of traditional ones is that it eliminates all the middlemen from the equation.
When you eliminate 3rd parties, the organizations behind the platform can make more money, (in this case ATECH and Winding Tree). There are no major processing fees, administrative fees or anything else that other companies will automatically remove from every transaction.
This is one of the most exciting features of blockchain technology. With smart contracts, the only people who get paid are the people you decide to pay. You draft your own contracts and design your own pay structure.
According to Varelie Croes, the Co-Founder of ATECH:
“A platform like this can help countries like Aruba … bring back some of the profits and tax it and actually keep the income at home. The impact is significant to the economy.”
Aruba has been experimenting with high tech solutions for a myriad of problems. For example, in its Smart Island Strategy for the tourism industry, Aruba introduced airport biometric checks and is working hard to integrate renewable energy into every business model on the island.
A Perfect Experiment
In many ways, Aruba’s work with Winding Tree is a good experiment for larger nations and other tourist destinations to watch. It offers the world an opportunity to learn.
The island has been looking into blockchain technology for quite sometime and is considering introducing its own form of digital fiat via Britt, a cryptocurrency startup that’s partnered with the Central Bank of Aruba. Decision makers in the country feel this could give the island’s GDP a boost.
Aruba isn’t the only country that Winding Tree is working with. Winding Tree has also partnered with Lufthansa Airlines and RoomRanger, (an Australian hotel management software developer). Winding Tree is also looking to partner with a large European hotel chain within the next few weeks.
However, Winding Tree’s program with Aruba will be the first blockchain-based gateway for travel and hospitality in the world.
The platform already went through its beta testing phase during the first months of 2017. Its current plans are to launch the application on the commercial marketplace by December 2018, starting with hotels and expanding into airlines.
In addition to its obvious tropical luxuries; Aruba is a small island, making it great for those adventurous types who like to go exploring. Winding Tree feels that Aruba is the perfect size to test out its new technology platform before taking it to larger countries around the world.
According to Croes:
“This is beyond Aruba, it can have a significant impact on small economies.”