Tourists flock to El Salvador despite Bitcoin bear market

Tourism in El Salvador surged in the first half of 2022. Up 82.8% this year alone, there were 1.1 million visitors to El Salvador this year, according to government figures. This is despite the price of Bitcoin (BTC) dropping nearly 50% since January 1.

Data from the World Travel Organization bolsters the claims. The small Central American country is internationally recognized as “one of the countries with the best tourism recovery rate in the region as of January 2022.”

The report from the World Trade Organization notes that some “Central American destinations have the best results compared to 2019,” including El Salvador with +81% compared to 2019, or pre-pandemic levels.

Contrary to reports from the Wall Street Journal that El Salvador’s bet on bitcoin to attract tourists “did not work,” visits in the first half of this year exceeded total visits in 2019: 1.1 million people visited the country in six months, compared to the year’s total past 1.2 million.

In a radio interview, Director General of Strategic Projects at El Salvador’s Ministry of Tourism, Alex Bonilla, explained that during the summer vacation period, the country can expect “57,500 international visitors, which will generate $60 million in foreign exchange during this holiday.” The 1.2 million mark is expected to be overcome soon.

Since El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender, thousands of Bitcoins have made the journey. Big names of bitcoins like Jeff Booth, Entrepreneur and Author tomorrow price, Obi Noso, CEO of Fedimint, a decentralized community nursery solution, and Samson Mao, CEO of January 3, both made the pilgrimage to El Salvador.

As Bitcoin Analyst Ton Vaez said of his visit to El Salvador, “99.9% of the world has no idea where this country is; perhaps 98% didn’t know this country existed at all – they [El Salvador] Definitely on the map now.” Bitcoin advocates are keen to bring in vivid tales of their journey to the land of volcanoes. At the same time, Bitcoin-focused companies are motivated to make Bitcoin in El Salvador play a successful role.

Related: Morgan Stanley encourages investors to buy Eurobonds in El Salvador

Bitcoin OGs Max Keizer and Stacey Herbert have chosen to reside in El Salvador and are now setting up streaming and broadcasting operations in El Salvador. As part of the Bitcoin law, residency in El Salvador can actually be purchased for 3 BTC, or $66,000 at the time of writing, as part of the investment in the country. Escape to El Salvador, a professional community that helps people relocate to El Salvador, told Cointelegraph that the 3 BTC residency strategy has merged into a “volcano bond offering.” They told Cointelegraph:

“It doesn’t automatically mean you’re a resident, you still have to apply, but you can use collectibles as a justification to apply, like a student can use an acceptance letter from a university to get a ‘student visa.’ There is still a process.”

El Salvador, known as “The Hoodador” in some circles, also hosted a group of central bank governors in May this year. The influential visitor group “did not discuss bitcoin,” according to Paraguay’s central bank, whose delegate was a tourist in El Salvador. However, there were numerous photos of 44 central bankers and economists using Bitcoin Beach Wallet in El Zonte, the birthplace of BTC adoption in the country.

The capital, San Salvador, is hosting the Bitcoin Adoption Conference, a Lightning Summit in November of this year. Over 80 Bitcoin and Lightning Network experts will take to the stage during the conference, with representatives from Blockstream, Spiral and the government of El Salvador.