MADRID: The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in association with Turismo de Portugal and Globalia, the leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America, has named the eight winners of the 2nd Tourism Startup Competition. Launched in 2018, this initiative works to identify and reward the new companies that will lead the transformation of the global tourism sector within the framework of innovation and sustainability.
The final event was held on eve of FITUR, Spain’s biggest and most important tourism trade fair and was attended by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, Javier Hidalgo, CEO of Globalia and Luís Araújo, president of Tourism of Portugal. Joining them were representatives of the collaborating companies that will participate in the subsequent promotion, investment search or implementation of pilot projects. Together, they formed the competition’s jury, listening to each start-up’s final pitches and assessing each one on several criteria, including their potential for scaling-up and ability to contribute to the sustainable development agenda.
Announcing the winners, Mr. Pololikashvili said: “This competition shows how much talent is out there, in countries large and small. And while the ideas may be very different, they all have one goal in common: making tourism smarter, better, and ensuring it contributes to sustainable development.”
In all, eight prizes were awarded, each for a different category. The winners were:
In the Deep Tech category, rethinking the location and geolocation, driven by Amadeus, the winner is Klustera (Mexico), which works in the field of digital transformation and human behavior
Within the Intelligent Mobility category, awarded in alliance with Telefónica, the winning startup is Eccocar (Spain), company that allows vehicles and fleets to be managed more ecologically
In the Smart Destinations category, awarded with the collaboration of the Digital District of Valencia, the award went to Visually (Spain) which aims to help people with hearing loss overcome barriers and enjoy their leisure time
Within the category of Disruptive Hospitality, awarded in partnership with Intu Costa del Sol, the award to Questo (Romania) which helps create unique experiences in destinations inspired by movies, books or local legends
In the Rural Development section, promoted by Globalia, the winner is Like Local (The Netherlands) which connects tourists local communities in developing countries in order to offer more authentic and personal travel experiences
Turismo de Portugal was awarded the Innovative Solutions in Tourism award to HiJiffy (Portugal), a startup that centralizes, automates and measures all hotel customer service activities
The winners of the Social Innovator’s Retreat competition at the IE Africa Center are Enjoy Agriculture (Senegal), a startup that provides experiences for tourists related to agrotourism, and EBikes4Africa (Namibia), which offers electric bikes for both local citizens and tourists.
Finally, the Special Recognition in Sustainability prize, supported by UNWTO and Globalia has gone to Live Electric Tours (Portugal), which offers tours in 100% electric vehicles.
“Growth and consolidation are usually the biggest challenges at the beginning of any project, and our startup competition has, thanks to the support of UNWTO and our partners, become a benchmark within the sector. We have received proposals from more than 150 countries and in this second edition, they come from more mature emerging companies. In fact, 10% of the companies that presented themselves invoiced more than 500,000 euros in 2018,” said Javier Hidalgo, CEO of Globalia.
Luís Araújo, President of Turismo de Portugal, added: “Innovation is a major force for growth and sustainability, providing the ingredients for long-term success in the tourism sector. The UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition’s finalists applications highlight the most innovative solutions to the future of the tourism sector. This provides a great opportunity to establish international contacts and to push innovation to the next level.”
The final was held at barrabes.biz, the Madrid innovation hub supported by UNWTO and Globalia. Also supporting the finalists of the 2nd UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition were Miguel Arias, Global Director of Entrepreneurship at Telefónica, Begoña Gómez, Director of the Africa Center, Rufino Selva from the Special Projects Department of Comunidad Valenciana, Raquel Rodrigo, Senior Analyst en Amadeus and Julie Moorhouse, head of new concepts at Intu Costa del Sol. In its first two editions, the UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition has received proposals from almost 5,000 startups.