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Tourism startups focus on innovation and sustainability

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in association with Globalia, the leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America, has selected the finalists of the 2nd Global Tourism Startup Competition, an initiative that the two entities have been working on since 2018 when its first edition was held.

In the competition’s first two editions, Wakalua, the global tourism innovation hub powered by Globalia, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization, has received proposals of nearly 5,000 startups from 150 countries. The countries with the highest number of projects submitted have been Spain, followed by India, the United States, Portugal, Nigeria and Colombia.

The second edition features startups in a more mature stage, with 10% having had more than EUR 500,000 in turnover in 2018. The finalists will present their projects at the Wakalua headquarters in Madrid. Seven will win awards in their respective categories.

Sustainability
Building on the success of the inaugural competition, this new edition continues to identify new companies that will lead the sector’s transformation. The aim and common denominator is to achieve a sustainable and profitable future through technology and innovation. This initiative is supported by partners such as Turismo de Portugal, Telefónica, Amadeus, Intu Costa del Sol, IE Africa Center and Distrito Digital Valencia, among others.

These partners will participate actively in the final decision and in the subsequent promotion, financing rounds and implementation of the pilot projects with the winners:

Categories
This annual competition is one of the flagship projects of Wakalua, the tourism innovation hub powered by Globalia in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization. Wakalua will host the winning startups for further development, providing support in order to establish links with leading companies in the sector. Innovation consulting firm Barrabés.biz is also a partner making this project possible.

Deep Tech, rethinking location and geolocation: With the backing of Amadeus, the aim in this category is to select the best startup that simplifies trips for customers or suppliers using location systems. Solutions that combine location data with artificial intelligence can be used to identify tourism regions, associate them with nearby airports, optimize, and offer opinion mining, among others.

Smart Mobility: In partnership with Telefónica, this category features projects that improve the quality of travel and that facilitate the mobility of users using any transport system. The objective is to reduce economic, environmental and time costs.

Smart Destinations: With the collaboration of Distrito Digital Valencia, solutions will be identified to improve the sustainability and profitability of destinations from the economic, environmental and socio-cultural perspectives by leveraging technology to help foster innovation and accessibility in an increasingly globalized world.

Disruptive Hospitality: Intu Costa del Sol will analyse companies that contribute to optimizing the total experience of travellers by combining the best solutions in the world of retail, shopping centres, food, leisure and hotels, so that, through personalized services and digital connectivity, every trip can be as efficient and effective as possible.

Rural Development: Globalia will place special emphasis on rural areas with the objective of transferring knowledge and innovation, and improving their viability and competitiveness. With the overall objective of promoting a shift towards an increasingly low-carbon economy, this category also seeks out companies devoted to risk management and animal welfare, as well as the restoration, preservation and improvement of ecosystems.

Innovative tourism solutions: Turismo de Portugal will present an award for the best innovation project outside the above categories.

Special award for sustainability: In addition, the UNWTO and Globalia will present a special sustainability award with the aim of giving more visibility to projects that are committed to more efficient and sustainable tourism.

Lastly, the IE Africa Center will recognize 2 projects in terms of social impact in Africa, awarding them with the Social Innovation Retreat scholarship, Sun Cycles Namibia and Enjoy Agriculture Senegal, presenting their initiatives. The winner of the Travel Tech 4 Good accelerator, in collaboration with the Tui Care Foundation and Enpact,  Halla Travel, will also present its startup.

Finalists by category:

Deep Tech:
Klustera (Mexico)
TravelX (India/USA)

Smart Mobility:
Eccocar (Spain)
Zeleros (Spain)

Smart Destinations:
Road.Travel (Russia)
Visualfy (Spain)

Disruptive Hospitality:
Hackpacking (Peru)
Questo (Romania)

Rural development:
i-likelocal  (Netherlands)
Rutopia  (Mexico)

Innovative tourism solutions:
HiJiffy  (Portugal)
LUGGit (Portugal)                 

Sustainability:
Adventure Junkies (Australia)
La Voyageuse (France)
Live Electric Tours (Portugal)
Pikala (Morocco)

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Tourism

UNWTO and NEOM Launch ‘Tourism Experiences of the Future’ Challenge

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The ‘Tourism Experiences of the Future’ challenge will source innovative ideas and disruptive business models related to the tourism needs of the future, in line with growing demand for new experiences. All proposals must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and should include the introduction or adaptation of digital and technological elements, as well as being focused at least one of the following areas:

  • Optimizing and maximizing the potential of experiential tourism
  • Harnessing the positive impact of new technology
  • Alternative business models
  • Innovative experiences

The competition is the first national initiative dedicated to identifying new companies that will lead the tourism sector’s transformation in Saudi Arabia. As well as established businesses, the competition also welcomes applications from Saudi Arabian start-ups and innovators with ideas capable of revolutionizing and inspiring tourists by presenting new ways and reasons to travel.

Applications are open until 2 November, with great interest expected, and participants must be Saudi citizens with legal capacity to enter into a contract. Successful projects will be selected based on various criteria, such as the degree of innovation, their viability and sustainability.

An Affiliate Member of UNWTO since 2019, NEOM is an accelerator of human progress and a vision of what a new future might look like. Located in northwest Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea, NEOM is ideally situated at the crossroads of the world, comprising a total area of 26,500 km². A special authority has been established to oversee NEOM, chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

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Tourism

Time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism

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Tourism “touches almost every part of our economies and societies”, enabling the historically marginalized, and “those at risk of being left behind, to benefit from development”, declared UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday, marking World Tourism Day.  

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism could result in a more than $4 trillion loss to the global economy, according to a recent report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

Emergency for developing countries 

Highlighting the fact that in the first months of this year, “international tourist arrivals decreased by a staggering 95 per cent in parts of the world”, Mr. Guterres said that tourism continues to suffer enormously due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“This is a major shock for developed economies, but for developing countries, it is an emergency”, he added.  

“Climate change is also severely affecting many major tourist destinations, particularly Small Island Developing States”, his message added. There, tourism accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all economic activity.  

Tourism for inclusive growth 

Acknowledging that many millions of livelihoods are in jeopardy, Mr. Guterres said that now it is “time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism”. 

“With the right safeguards in place, the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone”, he added. 

According to the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism (UNWTO), tourism is a recognized pillar of most the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), particularly Goals 1 (poverty-elimination), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (to reduce inequalities). 

In his message, Mr. Guterres went on to call for targeted action and investment, towards green and sustainable tourism, “with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transport and hospitality, moving towards carbon neutrality”.  

Adding that everybody should have a say in how tourism shapes the future of our societies, the UN chief concluded that “only through inclusive decision-making can we ensure inclusive, sustainable growth, deliver on the promise of the SDGs, and transform tourism to fulfil its potential”. 

The sector could then become “an engine for prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means to protect our planet and biodiversity, and an agent of cultural understanding between peoples”, said Mr. Guterres. 

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Tourism

Africa’s Tourism Leaders Identify Investments as Key to Sustainable Recovery

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The African Members of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have met in Cabo Verde to strengthen their cooperation and advance plans for recovery and sustainable growth.

The 64th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) saw 23 countries represented on the island of Sal, with 21 Ministers of Tourism joining five Ambassadors for the high-level event. Opening the Commission meeting, the President of Cabo Verde Jorge Carlos Fonseca offered a warm welcome to UNWTO’s leadership and to all delegates. The President was joined by Cabo Verde’s Minister of Tourism and Transport, Carlos Jorge Duarte Santos, and Prime Minister Dr. Ulisses Correia e Silva in reaffirming support of the highest political level for tourism and recognition of the sector as a driver of recovery and sustainable development.

Chaired by Christine Kaseba Sata, Ambassador of Zambia to Spain and Permanent Representative to UNWTO, delegates addressed the biggest challenges standing in the way of the sector’s safe restart across the continent. Special emphasis was placed on the importance of speeding up vaccine rollouts across the continent, as well as addressing security issues that continue to have an impact on how global travellers perceive Africa as a safe tourism destination. Also on the agenda was the current level of connectivity between destinations, with improved air links the harmonization of travel protocols identified as an effective means for boosting regional tourism.

Tourism’s restart ‘essential’

Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili welcomed delegates to the Commission meeting, providing an overview of UNWTO’s work during the ongoing crisis and how this is driven by the stated priorities of its African Member States. He said. “The continent is united in its determination to use the power of tourism to drive development and opportunity for all. And with coordination and targeted investments, African tourism can finally fulfil its unique potential.”

Rebuilding trust in travel

In Cabo Verde, UNWTO Members were brought up-to-date on the development of the International Code for the Protection of Tourists, a landmark code aimed at helping restore confidence in travel. Members were also presented with an overview of the UNWTO General Programme of Work & Budget for the Period 2022-2023. Additionally, signalling a shared determination to keep moving forward even in challenging times, Members also held elections for key positions within UNWTO decision-making bodies ahead of the 24th General Assembly.

Building capacity

Running in parallel with the Commission meeting, UNWTO hosted capacity building workshops on innovation, digital marketing and investment These workshops were held ahead of the second edition of the UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum, opened by Prime Minister Dr. Ulisses Correia e Silva and featuring the participation of investors from Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the USA as well as public and private sector leaders from across Africa. Backing up the workshop on marketing, UNWTO also launched its new Brand Africa publication. Produced with key African Tourism Partners, the publication aims at helping destinations use effective branding to diversify and attract visitors.

Also in Cabo Verde, tourism leader celebrated the signing and approval of the UNWTO Declaration on the Future of Mobility and Sustainable Transportation, a commitment aimed at the better understanding of how investments can help make the sector greener while also encouraging greater cooperation between tourism authorities and transport providers. Concluding the Regional Commission meeting, UNWTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Cabo Verde. The aim of the MoU is to enhance cooperation between UNWTO and the Ministry of Tourism to strengthen the country’s branding, boost tourism education initiatives, and support research into the socio-economic impact of the sustainable development of tourism across Cabo Verde.

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