UNWTO launches tilt for tourism startups

Elijah Felice Rosales (The Philippine Star) - April 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched a competition that would grant financial and technical support to travel startups across the globe.

The UNWTO said the contest would seek to acquire ideas on how to improve the contribution of tourism on rural development.

Dubbed the Global Rural Tourism Startup Competition, it supports entrepreneurs and firms that provide opportunities to people in the countryside.

Winners of the competition will get investment backing from UNWTO and its partners, as well as mentoring. Further, they will form part of the UNWTO Innovation Network and the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages of the World Pilot Initiative.

Winning entrepreneurs can also obtain scholarships at the Tourism Online Academy. They will be provided the chance to pitch their startup at the 14th UNWTO General Assembly to be held in Marrakech, Morocco.

The contest is divided into four sections, and competitors may only enter on one of them.

Projects that focus on the creation of jobs and livelihoods can be filed under People, while those that promote the protection of natural resources can be submitted to Planet.

Startups that make use of new business models can be assessed in Prosperity, while those that introduce new technologies in the regions can be evaluated in Propulsion of Rural Tech.

The UNWTO said the competition looks to bolster tourism investments in the countryside. It said tourism in rural areas benefit traditionally disadvantaged groups, such as women, who make up 54 percent of the labor force of the sector compared to the 39 percent of the global economy.

Likewise, the contest seeks to promote innovative projects that may be emulated once countries lift travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

The UNWTO said tourism in the new normal can be maximized to fight depopulation, promote inclusion and reduce regional inequalities.

Startups who want to join the competition may submit their applications online until July 1.

The announcement of finalists is slated on Aug. 15, and the final pitch session, as well as the confirmation of winners, is scheduled in October.

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