Start-up programmes launched to facilitate tourism development in Mekong Region

Tuesday, 2017-02-14 05:38:41
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MIST start-up programmes are expected to support tourism growth for countries in the Mekong Region.
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NDO – The Mekong Innovative Start-up Tourism (MIST) Initiative has announced two new campaigns aimed at facilitating the establishment of innovative tourism businesses in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

The MIST Start-up Accelerator will receive entries from recently established companies employing either advanced travel technology or traditional tourism business plans. Meanwhile, the MIST Market Access Accelerator welcomes applications from established international tourism start-ups seeking assistance to enter the region. Both programmes will receive applications until March 19.

Applicants must demonstrate how they will create jobs, generate a positive impact on the community and contribute to sustainable tourism growth in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or Vietnam.

Start-ups accepted into the MIST Star-tup Accelerator will attend mini boot camps 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 US$7,000.

MIST Market Access Accelerator participants will join tours put on by relevant companies based in the Mekong Region, as well as receiving coaching, custom market insights and introductions to supplier networks and relevant stakeholders.

Participants in both MIST accelerators will have a chance to present their plans to investors, global incubator programmes and tourism leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum scheduled to be held in June in Luang Prabang, Laos and the APEC Summit slated for November in Da Nang, Vietnam. In-country MIST teams will provide additional appropriate advisory consultations in relation to participants’ business needs.

The MIST accelerator programmes aim to help promote tourism investments that create jobs, assist local communities and support entrepreneurship, especially for women, said Dominic Mellor, senior Asian Development Bank (ADB) economist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI).

Noting that the Great Mekong Sub region is one of the fastest growing tourism destinations around the globe, Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), warned that start-ups could disrupt traditional practices when being adapted to changing consumer behaviours. However, it is also necessary to encourage responsible innovation that enhances the region’s appeal for future generations.

Established last November with an aim to promote tourism growth in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, MIST is a joint venture of the MTCO and the MBI, receiving regional funding, advisory and technical support from the ADB, the Government of Australia, Amadeus Next, the Pacific Asia Travel Association and Village Capital. It has been endorsed by several associations for young entrepreneurs and start-up groups in the above mentioned countries.