The first edition of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in partnership with Globalia, the leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America, is a pioneering initiative that has identified emerging companies at the forefront of the transformation of the tourism sector and the promotion of innovation ecosystems through tourism. The 20 semi-finalists, from 12 countries, pitched their projects in the framework of the recent official celebration of World Tourism Day in the presence of public and private sector leaders of the global tourism sector, as well as investors. The finalist projects will be presented at the next edition of the International Tourism Fair of Madrid (Fitur), in January 2019.
The competition seeks to identify innovative startups capable of transforming the way people travel and experience tourism, while adhering closely to the principles of sustainability (economic, social, environmental). The 20 semi-finalists addressed areas such as community development (15%), the future of travel (35%) and the tourism experience (50%).
“We have positioned tourism for the first time in the global innovation agenda, a well-deserved place that reflects the weight and socio-economic impact of tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “The key is to connect the public and private sectors collaboratively, thus creating opportunities to share ideas and projects,” he added.
Each project’s uniqueness, viability, potential impact, business model and scalability, along with the profile of the team behind it, were the criteria for selecting the 20 semi-finalists.
“As a global tourism group, we are delighted to lead and spearhead this initiative together with the World Tourism Organization and we want to work together to lead the transformation of the tourism sector and set a benchmark; that is why we have promoted this public-private collaboration model, which is a first in tourism,” said Globalia CEO Javier Hidalgo.
The semi-finalists notably feature innovative projects that redefine how trips are planned and how tourism is experienced, while promoting sustainability and community involvement. All this is combined with the application of technology to revolutionize business models and corporate management in the sector.
An innovative event
Globalia and the World Tourism Organization have entrusted this initiative to Barrabés.biz, an innovation consultancy with over 20 years of experience in creating, connecting and activating entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.
The technological platform chosen to manage the competition was YouNoodle, a pioneering Silicon Valley firm that specializes in innovation and entrepreneurship competitions at the global level.