UNWTO seeks to further tourism’s contribution to sustainable development

UNWTO launches new Startup Competition

UNWTO seeks to further tourism’s contribution to sustainable development

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced the launch of a new Startup Competition as it looks to identify innovators with the power to further tourism’s contribution to sustainable development

As the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, UNWTO has been guiding the sector’s efforts to contribute to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including through the Tourism 4 SDGs online platform. Now, as the global community faces just 10 years to reach this ambitious agenda for people and planet, tourism’s unique ability to advance several of the SDGs is more relevant than ever.

Against the backdrop of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, held under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), UNWTO has launched the SDGs Global Startup Competition. Organized in partnership with Wakalua, the innovation hub of leading tourism group Globalia, the competition has strong private sector backing, with the Advanced Leadership Foundation, Amadeus, Amazon Web Services Activate, BBVA, ClarkeModet, The Far Co, Globant, Google, IE University, Mastercard, Mentor Day, Plug and Play and Telefónica as lead promoters of innovation.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashviki said: “Tourism’s cross-cutting nature is unique. As a sector, it touches on almost every part of our economies and our societies. This competition will rally all sectors around efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and place innovation and sustainability at the heart of global economic recovery.”

The competition is not only open to innovators within the tourism sector. Startups of every kind, from all over the world, are invited to participate provided that they:

Are innovative in nature and provide value-added solutions
Are sustainability-driven
Are scalable, with potential for international growth and potential to be applied in corporations and destinations (countries, regions)
Are an Early Stage or Series A startup
Have a tested pilot and business plan
Have been accelerated before
Have a full-time team already in place

The 17 most disruptive startups (1 for each of the SDGs) will be given support to scale-up and make a real difference to the future of destinations. UNWTO will present the best ideas to its Member States, Affiliate Members and investors, providing them with a unique networking and matchmaking opportunity. Additional benefits on offer include the chance to pitch at a special UNWTO Demo Day and access to technological support and to the UNWTO Innovation network, as well as a curated mentorship programme with both one-on-one and group training sessions on key topics such as Intellectual Property, sustainability in business and leadership.

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