New Initiative to Boost Tourism Investment and Innovation

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Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) – matching startup teams with international mentors, market opportunities and investors

JOINT PRESS RELEASE. NOVEMBER 18, 2016, HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM: A new initiative to catalyse tourism sector growth in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar and Viet Nam has been launched at Echelon Vietnam 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City.

(L-R) DNES Deputy CEO Nguyen Tran, ADB MBI Head Dominic Mellor, and MTCO Executive Director Jens Thraenhart launch MIST in Ho Chi Minh City this afternoon.

(L-R) DNES Deputy CEO Nguyen Tran, ADB MBI Head Dominic Mellor, and MTCO Executive Director Jens Thraenhart launch MIST in Ho Chi Minh City at Echelon Viet Nam 2016.

The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) initiative invites startups, particularly those led by local men and women, to participate in a contest to develop solutions for identified tourism market opportunities. Winners will be matched with suitable investors.

The first MIST reverse hackathon and tourism startup competition will take place in Danang in early 2017.

The official organizers of MIST are the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) and the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI). MTCO receives funding from the governments of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. MBI receives funding from the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Australia.

In Viet Nam, MIST is co-organized with the Da Nang Business Incubator (DNES). Partners include the Seoul Global Startup Center and the Swiss Government funded SECO Entrepreneurship Program.

“Tourism is a major industry in Da Nang and the Startup Council is committed to foster startups and promote innovative approaches for sustainable growth of the industry.” said Mr. Vo Duy Khuong, Chairman of the Danang Startup Network Coordinating Council and Da Nang Business Incubator.

“Innovation and technologies are transforming the world’s tourism sector, but the Mekong region has lagged behind. We are eager to see the region’s startups innovate and create new avenues for tourism growth.” said Dominic Mellor, head of the MBI at the Asian Development Bank.

“The Greater Mekong Subregion is a magnet for tourism, but accelerating tourist volumes have also brought challenges to drive inclusive growth. The region will need to develop and innovate if it is to sustain today’s growth over the long term.” said Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the MTCO.

The MIST program works with with local tourism industry players to identify critical industry challenges and bottlenecks. The program then solicits global solutions from experienced innovators, encourage exchanges between global providers and startups led by local men and women, and structures competitions among startup teams.

The best startup teams from across the region’s four countries will be invited to an intensive bootcamp and Demo Day at the 2017 Mekong Tourism Forum in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.  The best Vietnamese startups will be further invited to a Demo Day at the APEC Investment Summit in November 2017 in Danang, Viet Nam.

MTCO supports MIST as it is aligned with the GMS Tourism Sector Strategy 2016-2025‎, as well as the GMS Tourism Marketing Strategy 2015-2020, with the mandate to stimulate responsible tourism development to promote the GMS as a single tourism destination and drive inclusive growth to secondary destinations, supporting small and medium sized businesses.

For more information on MIST please visit http://www.mekongtourism.org/mist/ and contact Mr. David Gillbanks, Project Consultant of the MTCO (David@mekongtourism.org) or Ms. Nguyen Quynh Anh, Communications Officer of the MBI (quynhanh@mekongbiz.org).

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About the Da Nang Business Incubator (DNES) – DNES was established in early 2016 with a mission to build a strong ecosystem for nurturing innovation and startups in Da Nang city. DNES has developed robust programs to provide startup support services, incubate potential projects and increase access for startups to funding sources. For more information, please visit www.dnes.vn and follow us on social media @danangstartup

About the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) –  MBI is an advisory facility supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Australia that promotes private sector development in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, and Viet Nam. MBI fosters development of the innovation ecosystem by supporting angel investing, business incubation and technology commercialization. For more information, please visit www.mekongbiz.org, and follow us on facebook at mekongbusinessinitiative.

About SECO Entrepreneurship Program Vietnam (SECO EP) – A Swiss Government-funded program aiming to accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Viet Nam. The Program focuses on “supply side” players including mentors, accelerators, incubators, and angel investors. For more information, please follow us on social media @SECOEPVietnam.

About the Seoul Global Startup Center – The Seoul Global Startup Center is an incubator program for startups, funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and operated by a private enterprise with 18 years of experience, Rehoboth Business Incubator. For more information, please visit www.seoulgsc.com.

About Mekong Tourism – Established in early 2006, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is a collaborative effort between the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). The GMS comprises Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (specifically the provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.  The mission of the MTCO is to help GMS 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.  For more information, please visit www.MekongTourism.org, and follow us on social media @TourismMekong.

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