UNWTO has partnered with Les Roches Global Hospitality Management School to support tourism startups in embracing innovation and accelerating their shift to greater sustainability.
Throughout May, the 15 winners of the UNWTO Awake Tourism Challenge were given the opportunity to take part in the Acceleration program offered by Spark, Les Roches Hospitality School, at Crans-Montana, the Swiss Campus of the school. The acceleration program focuses on key issues for tourism entrepreneurs and startups, including marketing and finance strategy, market research, fundraising, legal concerns and transparency. The participants also took part in a Technology Challenge, designed to put into practice what they learned at Crans-Montana.
The final, which marked the culmination of the acceleration program, provided an opportunity for the startups to pitch their business ideas. The event was attended by around 100 participants including investors and stakeholders in private equity, international investment funds, consulting firms, Spark’s technology partners, as well as several representatives of the Swiss authorities, indicating the high level of interest and support for the innovative solutions being developed by the startups.
The winning startups included Coastruction (Netherlands), Noytrall (Portugal), SmArt Tourism and Hospitality Consulting (Panama), Quantum Temple (USA), Socialbnb (Germany), Baahdy and Birdy (Norway), Instituto de Accesibilidad (Spain), Kamatjona (Namibia), Weavair (Singapore), R3Charge (Germany), Impact Innovations Institute (Safe YOU) (Armenia), NomadHer (South Korea), Murmuration (France), Evelity by Okeenea Digital (France), and Accessible Qatar (Qatar).
Identifying solutions to the biggest challenges
The UNWTO Awake Tourism Challenge is organized by the UNWTO, in collaboration with its partners, to encourage startups and entrepreneurs to develop solutions that address key challenges for the sector. The Challenge features six distinct verticals, enabling applicants to submit their solutions to the pillar that best aligned with their innovations. These verticals included Green and Blue Economies, Local Community Involvement, Tourism Education, Ecological and Sustainable Capital Creation, Women Empowerment, and Tourism Tech for Good.
The winning startups of the UNWTO Awake Tourism Competition have also joined the Innovation network, which now comprises 300 leading startups from all the startup competitions organized by the UNWTO‘s Innovation department since its establishment in 2018.
Looking ahead, the next edition of the global startup competition is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter of 2023, revolving around the themes of the SDG Competition. This upcoming event will further encourage entrepreneurs to address the Sustainable Development Goals and make a positive impact on the tourism sector.