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Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) Announces Support for 10 Innovative Travel Companies

2018-06-29 14:39

NAKHON PHANOM, Thailand , June 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) will support 10 innovative travel and hospitality companies in 2018. The two-year-old innovation program aims to identify and support high-growth travel and hospitality businesses that have potential to contribute positively to local communities, economies, and the environment. It is jointly supported by the Asian Development Bank, Australian Government, and six-government Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. MIST features a startup accelerator as well as a separate market access program.

The MIST Startup Accelerator teaches business fundamentals to early-stage travel and hospitality startups, while connecting them with industry and investors. Five local entrepreneurs from Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam earned spots:

  • BambooLao (Lao PDR) produces reusable bamboo straws.
  • Ecohost (Vietnam) improves local homestay management and activities.
  • Go Explore (Vietnam) organizes "workation" programs aimed at international and domestic remote workers.
  • Sidesbag (Cambodia) enables airline passengers to purchase luggage allowance from fellow travelers.
  • VDEs (Vietnam) connects event planners with event venues.

The Startup Accelerator finalists will reconvene in October, concurrent with ITB Asia in Singapore, to compete for innovation grants up to USD $10,000.

The MIST Market Access Program invites innovators from around the world to solve tourism and hospitality industry challenges in the Greater Mekong Subregion. The program helps innovators clear market entry obstacles, form local partnerships, and secure financing for proof-of-concept pilots. MIST selected five companies to join the Market Access program:

  • Adventoro is a bookable directory bucket-list worthy activities including whitewater rafting, jungle treks, and diving excursions.
  • DidaTravel Technology offers backend technology for hotel booking, providing real-time inventory and rates.
  • hereO, creator of the heroO GPS watch for kids, offers plug-and-play IoT technology.
  • Moneybay provides a digital cross-border currency exchange platform.
  • Monkey Theory offers branded sporting events.

"There is no doubt that technology is rapidly transforming travel. The trick is to harness and accelerate innovative business models that also positively transform lives, communities, and the natural environment," said Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

"MIST has received more than 350 applications from all over the world, demonstrating the Greater Mekong Subregion's dynamism as a destination and its attractiveness to innovators. We are excited to see how these technologies and business models will transform an already fast-growing industry," said Dominic Mellor, senior investment advisor for the Asian Development Bank.

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About the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Australian Government jointly launched MBI in 2015. MBI catalyzes private sector development in emerging Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets, focusing on Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, and Vietnam. The program aims to improve the business-enabling environment in these four emerging ASEAN markets with particular focus on business advocacy, alternative finance, and innovation. MBI supports four innovation accelerators: Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST), the Mekong AgriTech Challenge (MATCh), the SMART City Innovation Challenge, and the Fintech Challenge Viet Nam (FCV). MBI is also the principal organizer of the Women's Initiative for Startup and Entrepreneurship (WISE), a network of women-owned and women-led startups in the Mekong Region. It is supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Australian Government.

About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) - Established in early 2006, MTCO is a collaborative effort between the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Its mission is to help the region's National Tourism Organizations develop and promote the Mekong as a single travel destination, offering a diversity of good quality and high-yielding sub-regional products that help to distribute the benefits of tourism more widely; add to the tourism development efforts of each GMS destination; contribute to poverty reduction, gender equality and empowerment of women; and minimize any adverse impacts of tourism through the development of a sustainable industry.

MTCO established Destination Mekong in 2017 in order to leverage additional funding and partnerships in support of the GMS regional collaborative tourism framework. Destination Mekong executes targeted projects and initiatives via a public-private partnership investment structure, led by UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies and supported by Hanoi-based Clickable Vietnam.

Source: Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST)
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