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Air Lituanica Shows Bitcoin's Use in Travel is Taking Flight

(@pete_rizzo_) | Published on August 29, 2014 at 18:50 BST

Air Lituanica

Air Lituanica is now accepting bitcoin for flight tickets as part of its ongoing bid to embrace new and innovative methods of serving customers.

With the news, the two-plane, Lithuania-based airline becomes the second airline, and second in eastern Europe, to add bitcoin payments following airBaltic's July announcement.

In a blog post, Air Lituanica director of commerce Simonas Bartku illustrated the benefits bitcoin can bring to travel businesses, writing:

"Bitcoin payments are highly beneficial for the aviation market – this currency helps to attract more buyers from abroad as bitcoins can be used anywhere in the world."

Air Lituanica's statements provide the latest evidence that bitcoin is gaining traction beyond the airline industry in the wider global travel industry, and that a growing number of consumers and businesses in this sector are looking to tap digital currency as a solution.

Long term, digital currency proponents believe the technology can provide real convenience to travelers due to the hassles and high fees associated with currency conversion as well as the high risk of fraud international travelers face. Further, it seems a growing number of businesses are looking to help the community test its prediction.

With this in mind, CoinDesk takes a look at recent news that showcases how bitcoin is building traction in the travel industry.

Bitcoin for destination travel

In addition to appealing to existing travel companies like Air Lituanica, bitcoin is also helping savvy entrepreneurs gain a foothold in the space.

For example, just last week, Bali-based travel booking agency BitcoinTour launched with the goal of making it easier for travelers to use bitcoin to visit the popular island. Notably, Bali is part of the BitIslands initiative, a project that aims to turn the Indonesian tourist destination into a top destination for bitcoin enthusiasts.

BitcoinTour now allows bitcoin users to book flights via major airlines serving the island, including Air Asia, Citilink and Lion Air, as well as a number of area hotels.

Expedia opens doors to hotels

Another segment of the travel industry that is increasingly interested in bitcoin is the hotel sector. In recent months, the Sandman Hotel Group in Canada and at least one member of the popular Dutch easyHotel franchise have begun to accept bitcoin as payment from customers.

However, bitcoin travel has recently become significantly easier with the addition of Expedia and CheapAir to the ecosystem, the former of which nets more than $1bn in annual revenue, while the latter serves more than 200,000 hotels worldwide.

Land travel lags behind

While international travel options have proved to be more accommodating of bitcoin services, land travel alternatives have been less quick to embrace bitcoin.

Still, there have been companies exploring this as-yet untapped part of bitcoin's travel sector. For example, CheapAir announced in May that it would accept bitcoin for its Amtrak railway bookings.

Further, PassportParking, a parking solutions provider that serves lots in 35 US states revealed it would seek to implement a bitcoin payments trial in 2014.

Combined, the news events show that bitcoin is gaining ground in the travel industry, but that the idea of an easy, bitcoin-only vacation may be years away.

Image via Tallinn-airport.ee

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