Do you have a tourism business plan for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam? Prepare for takeoff. The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) accelerator programs are accepting applications from February 13 until March 19.
MIST is a joint venture of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) and the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI). Unlike the plethora of travel tech accelerators popping up around the world, MIST does not take equity in its participants. It is a development initiative designed to spur innovation and create jobs. The program is receiving support from a host of regional thought leaders on tourism and startup business including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Australia, Amadeus Next, Echelon, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and the Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (SECO-EP).
MIST has two acceleration tracks. One focuses on early-stage tourism startups already based in Greater Mekong Subregion. The other welcomes mature businesses based elsewhere that wish to expand into the Mekong.
Graduates of both acceleration tracks will receive individualized support including matchmaking, assistance entering global accelerators, and coaching from Mekong Business Initiative and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office experts.
MIST Startup Accelerator
Who’s it for? Early-stage startups based in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam that are developing tourism business plans for the region. Both traditional tourism and travel tech startups are encouraged to apply. Applicants must demonstrate how they will achieve profitability, create jobs, generate positive community impact and contribute to sustainable tourism growth.
How many companies will be accepted? 30-40.
What support will they receive? Two representatives from each accepted company will be invited to attend an all-expense-paid MIST tourism startup bootcamp. A hackathon will help the startups strengthen their business plans, and they will receive coaching from startup and tourism experts. Approximately 15 of the strongest accelerator participants will be invited to attend the Mekong Tourism Forum (June, Luang Prabang) or APEC Summit (November, Danang) and pitch their business plans to investors. Four startups will win cash Innovation Grants. First prize: $10,000. Three runners up: $7,000 each.
MIST Market Access Accelerator
Who’s it for? Mature and profitable tourism SMEs tourism startups with proven viability and profitability that wish to expand products and operations into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam. Applicants must demonstrate how they will achieve profitability, create jobs, generate positive community impact and contribute to sustainable tourism growth.
How many companies will be accepted? 10.
What support will they receive? Two representatives from each accepted project will be invited on customized market access tours of the chosen project area. Tours will introduce participants to supplier networks and other stakeholders. Participants will also attend the Mekong Tourism Forum (June, Luang Prabang) or APEC Summit (November, Danang), pitching their projects to investors and tourism luminaries.
Interested tourism businesses may learn more and apply to the MIST accelerator programs at MIST.asia.