New accelerators a shot in the arm for Mekong tourism startups


The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Initiative has announced two new accelerators to help tourism business 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, while the MIST Market Access Accelerator welcomes mature international tourism startups that need assistance to enter the region.

Applicants must demonstrate how they will create jobs, generate positive community impact and contribute to sustainable tourism growth in the Mekong Subregion.

“The MIST accelerator programmes 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 economist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI).

Successful applicants 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 US$7,000.

Meanwhile, the MIST Market Access Accelerator participants will join fam tours of the relevant markets to receive coaching, custom market insights, and introductions to supplier networks and relevant stakeholders.

As well, participants in both MIST accelerators will pitch their plans to investors, global acceleration programmes and tourism leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum in Luang Prabang in June and the APEC Summit in Danang in November. In-country teams will provide additional advisory services tailored to participants’ business needs.

“The Great Mekong Subregion is among the fastest-growing tourism destinations. Startups can disrupt traditional practices to adapt to changing consumer behaviours, 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).

A joint venture of the MTCO and MBI, MIST receives regional funding, advisory and technical support from the Asian Development Bank, the Government of Australia, Amadeus Next, PATA and Village Capital.

Applications close March 19, 2017

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