Refundit, an Israeli startup, was declared the winner in the final phase of the 1st Global Tourism Startup Competition, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Globalia, and held within the framework of the FITUR International Tourism Fair, topping 3,000 entries from around the world.
The Competition, launched in June 2018 by the UNWTO and Globalia, the leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America, attracted 3,000 entries from 133 countries. The Competition sought out the world’s most disruptive initiatives that are transforming the way people travel and experience tourism, while hewing closely to the principles of economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
Each solution’s uniqueness, viability, potential impact, business model and scalability, along with the profile of the team, were the criteria for the selection process. In the previous round, 20 semi-finalists from 12 countries presented their projects on the occasion of the official celebration of World Tourism Day 2018 (27 September in Budapest, Hungary) to an audience of global leaders of the public and private sectors of tourism and investors. The 10 finalists that presented their projects during the first day of FITUR 2019 were selected in Budapest.
Refundit is the winner of this inaugural edition of the Competition. The Israeli company offers an app that facilitates VAT refund for tourists visiting the European Union. The refund process is carried out through the app itself.
In addition, Globalia and the UNWTO recognized The Freebird Club as the project with the greatest sustainability impact. The platform connects seniors, providing them with opportunities to travel to different countries and meet new people in the network.
For its part, Portugal Ventures, as an investment partner or investment partner, has selected Pruvo, The Freebird Club and E-bot7, so that they can develop their projects in Portugal.
“The UNWTO is committed to innovation and digital transformation and this event is already a milestone in the transformation of the tourism sector,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “For the first time, we have managed to position tourism in the global innovation agenda, where it absolutely deserves a place in keeping with the economic weight and social impact of the sector,” he added.
Globalia CEO Javier Hidalgo added that “as a global group, we are very happy to have made this competition a reality, through which we will be able to promote change in the sector, while always advocating innovation and sustainability.”
The objective of this competition is to harness innovation and tourism investment in order to create better tourism products, improve the governance of tourism and turn sustainability into the backbone of tourism, creating jobs and generating opportunities.
In addition, it highlights public-private collaboration as one of the key factors for the creation of opportunities for the tourism sector, communities and their people to share ideas and projects.
The event, supported by the Xunta de Galicia, was attended by representatives of the tourism sector, investors, ministers and media from around the world.