The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) has opened applications for the fourth edition of the annual Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) programme.
The programme is jointly launched by MTCO and Destination Mekong, the public-private collaboration framework of the Lancang-Mekong Region.
Applicants can submit under two categories: travel technology ventures and social impact ventures.
While MIST has previously only accepted applications from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, this year it also welcomes submissions from startups headquartered in the Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China.
“The Greater Mekong Subregion’s government, tourism, and hospitality leaders have embraced MIST as a force for innovation, sustainability, and growth in the region,” said Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the MTCO.
“Through this programme, we have created the ideal mechanism for tourism innovators and travel startups to get paired with investors and industry mentors who can equip them to scale and thrive.”
The MIST programme was launched in 2016 by Destination Mekong and the Mekong Business Initiative, with the backing of the Government of Australia, the Asian Development Bank, and the MTCO, to propel innovation in the tourism markets of the Greater Mekong Subregion.
The MIST programme is guided by an international advisory board made up of travel executives and investors in the travel and tourism industry.
In 2017 and 2018, the final pitching competitions were integrated into the Mekong Tourism Forums in Luang Prabang, Laos, and Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, respectively.
In 2019, Destination Mekong partnered with the Travel Startups Asia Forum in Bangkok, to host the final MIST pitching competition. The MIST Mentorships Bootcamp was hosted at the offices of the PATA in Bangkok, conducting workshops by investors, travel executives, and MIST alumni for MIST 2019 finalists. Winners of the travel technology category were invited to present at the MIST Forum at ITB Asia in Singapore, and winners of the social impact category will present at the next Mekong Tourism Forum.
The MIST Advisory Group recently met virtually to discuss that MIST 2020 will have a focus on resilience amid the current Covid-19 pandemic. Board members also agreed to conduct online MIST mentorship sessions for final startups with investors and MIST alumni.
The final MIST pitching competition may also be held virtually, if a physical event is not possible at the end of 2020, said MTCO in a statement.