Initiative looks to accelerate pace of tourism startups in Mekong region

By Zhuan Ti ( China Daily ) Updated: 2017-02-18 07:52:31

The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism Initiative announced on Monday the launch of two new groundbreaking accelerators designed to make it easier and faster for innovative tourism enterprises to get established in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The MIST Startup Accelerator is accepting applications from early-stage companies with business plans featuring either travel technology or focusing on traditional tourism, while the MIST Market Access Accelerator is welcoming applications from mature international tourism startups that need assistance to get established in the region.

The closing date for applications to both accelerators is March 19.

"The Great Mekong Subregion is among the fastest-growing tourism destinations on Earth. Startups can disrupt traditional practices to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, but (we also want to) encourage responsible innovation that enhances the region's appeal for future generations," said Jens Thraenhart, executive director at the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

Applicants must demonstrate how they will create jobs, generate a positive impact on communities and contribute to the growth of sustainable tourism in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam.

Initiative looks to accelerate pace of tourism startups in Mekong region

"The MIST accelerator programs will give a leg up to tourism investments that create jobs, help local communities and support entrepreneurship, especially for women," said Dominic Mellor, senior Asian Development Bank economist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative.

Company founders that are accepted into the MIST Startup Accelerator will attend mini boot camps to further develop their business plans.

The top business plans for each country's market will win MIST Innovation Grants, and the best overall plan will receive $10,000, with three runners-up receiving $7,000.

MIST Market Access Accelerator participants will take orientation tours of the relevant Mekong region markets.

Through these tours, they will receive coaching, custom market insights, and introductions to supplier networks and relevant stakeholders.

Participants in both of the accelerators will pitch their plans to investors, global accelerator programs and tourism industry leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum to be held in Laos in June and the APEC CEO Summit in Vietnam in November.

In-country teams will provide additional advisory services tailored to participants' business needs.

MIST is a joint venture of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and the Mekong Business Initiative. It receives regional funding and technical and advisory support from the Asian Development Bank; the Australian government; Amadeus Next, a startup business community by Amadeus IT Group; the Pacific Asia Travel Association; and Village Capital.

 Initiative looks to accelerate pace of tourism startups in Mekong region

Tourists visit Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to Angkor Wat, a world heritage site. The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism Initiative has launched programs to encourage tourism startups in four Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia. Photos By Jiang Dong / China Daily

(China Daily 02/18/2017 page10)

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