The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Initiative has announced two new accelerators designed to make it easier and faster for innovative tourism businesses to get established in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The MIST Startup Accelerator will take entries from early stage companies with either travel technology or traditional tourism business plans. The MIST Market Access Accelerator welcomes applications from mature international tourism startups needing assistance entering the region. Both accelerators will close to applications on March 19.
Applicants must demonstrate how they will create jobs, generate positive community impact and contribute to sustainable tourism growth in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam.
“The MIST accelerator programs give a leg up to tourism investments that create jobs, help local communities, and support entrepreneurship, especially for women,” explained Dominic Mellor, senior Asian Development Bank (ADB) economist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI).
Founders accepted into the MIST Startup Accelerator will attend mini bootcamps to further develop their business plans. The top business plans for each country market will win MIST Innovation Grants, with the best overall receiving US$10,000 and the three runners-up receiving $7,000.
MIST Market Access Accelerator participants will join familiarization tours of relevant Mekong-region markets. Through these tours, they will receive coaching, custom market insights, and introductions to supplier networks and relevant stakeholders.
Participants in both MIST accelerators will pitch their plans to investors, global acceleration programs, and tourism leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum 2017 in June (Luang Prabang, Lao PDR) and the APEC Summit in November (Danang, Vietnam). In-country teams will provide additional advisory services tailored to participants’ business needs.
“The Greater Mekong Subregion is among the fastest growing tourism destinations on earth. Start-ups can disrupt traditional practices to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, but let’s also encourage responsible innovation that enhances the region’s appeal for future generations,” said Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO).
MIST is a joint venture of the MTCO and the MBI. It receives regional funding, advisory and technical support from the ADB, the Government of Australia, Amadeus Next, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), and Village Capital. It has been endorsed by young entrepreneurs associations and startup groups in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
About the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI)
MBI is an advisory facility 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 business advocacy, alternative finance and innovation. It is supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Australia. On Facebook: MekongBusinessInitiative.
About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)
Established in early 2006, the MTCO is a collaborative effort between the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Its 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. On social media: @TourismMekong.
Mr Jason Lusk, MIST Project Coordinator, Mekong Business Initiative
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