Bitcoin (BTC) is playing a crucial role in the economic transformation of El Salvador, according to Santander Group. The institution’s Corporate & Investment Banking division highlighted in its latest report the significant annual increase of 30% in tourism in the country, largely driven by BTC.
Minister of Tourism of El Salvador, Morena Valdez, presented numbers that confirm the positive influence of BTC. The Bitcoin Law, which granted legal tender status to the cryptocurrency in the country since September 2021, has attracted a significant number of visitors. The expected economic impact has not only been achieved but surpassed.
The United States has been the main source of tourists visiting El Salvador, with tourism flows growing at a faster rate than in the Dominican Republic, which welcomes around 7 million visitors annually.
Santander notes that the arrival of American tourists, including Bitcoin enthusiasts, has more than doubled compared to 2019, going from 281,000 in the first half of that year to 483,000 in the same period in 2023.
Santander Corporate & Investment Banking emphasizes that the United States represents significant tourism potential for El Salvador, both for residents and BTC tourists, due to geographical proximity and the use of the dollar.
Bitcoin in El Salvador
However, Bitcoin-driven tourism is not limited to Americans. People from around the world, including Japan, have been visiting El Salvador due to the economic attractiveness offered by the Central American nation.
The report also highlights that the increase in tourism is partly due to the low crime rate reported in El Salvador, a result of the local government’s security policies. President Nayib Bukele’s measures, such as the State of Exception, have led to a safer environment and have contributed to the decrease in migratory pressures towards the United States.
Santander estimates that tourism revenue in El Salvador may have doubled, representing 10% of the GDP during the first quarter of 2023, although Bukele’s government has not yet confirmed this projection.
The growth of Bitcoin-driven tourism had already been mentioned by the government of El Salvador, with Minister of Tourism Morena Valdez reporting that over 1 million people visited the country in less than a year, attracted by BTC and its legal adoption.