Singapore welcomes Korean startup accelerator to its travel tech space

With the set-up of the Korea Tourism Startup Center (KTSC) in Singapore, tourism stakeholders in South-east Asia can look forward to innovative travel tech solutions for their businesses.

The Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) officially launched the travel tech accelerator yesterday with an opening ceremony and demo day where 13 Korean startups from the pilot batch presented their novel ideas in five-minute pitches.

Singapore welcomes Korean startup accelerator to its travel tech space

They were selected from KTO HQ’s Tourism Startup Global Challenge Programme for startups to venture into overseas markets.

Demo day for pitches
On its value proposition, John Lee, CEO of H2O Hospitality, pitched that his startup is able to “triple the direct booking volumes, lower 50 per cent of operating costs and increase 30 per cent of weekday sales on average” for customers.

With 160 employees in South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, Lee’s startup provides digital management solutions and services tailored to the customer’s situation for the digital transformation of accommodation facilities.

“We are in a growth stage. We closed our (Series) C round (of funding) last May and hopefully, we can hit the unicorn level real soon,” he added.

Apart from offering a fully-integrated suite of AI-driven travel solutions, one of Globaleur’s unique selling points is having dynamic travel content which CEO, David Lee, believes is crucial for tech companies to stay competitive.

He said: “What I mean by content is destination pictures, descriptions and even general information like geolocation and address. We never borrow so we create our own proprietary content – we currently cover 200 cities and over 125,000 destinations around the world.”

Global airlines, hotel chains, OTAs and tourism boards leverage Globaleur’s customisable end-to-end travel solutions, which are powered by AI, for planning, booking, and itinerary management.

Catalyst to develop innovative solutions
KTSC strives to be the catalyst for these growing businesses to develop innovative solutions that drive the tourism capabilities of South Korea and Singapore.

It also connects startups with officials of the local industry, regional industry players, and reputable VC firms, by offering various programmes for upstarts keen to expand in South-east Asia.

Following the MOU signed between Singapore Tourism Board and KTO in November 2021, KTSC’s formation is also a major timely step forward post-lockdown.

Boot camp for startups
Spanning four days from August 30 to September 2, KTSC Tourism Boot Camp provides the 13 travel startups with masterclasses to help them grow their businesses; introductions to the different public and private organisations integral to the region’s ecosystem; as well as meetings with selected VC firms to discuss their next steps.

Kim Young Hee, director of KTO Singapore, said: “The boot camp and the opening ceremony in Singapore will mark KTSC’s first foray into the travel industry in the new normal. The partnership will put Korea and Singapore in good stead to be gateways for the travel industry in our region.”

After the camp, the startups will proceed to attend industry events, Travel Tech Asia and SWITCH 2022.

Currently, five startups have already set up their entities in Singapore, with more to follow. Discussions between KTSC and local experts are also underway to expand their teams and services in the city-state.

Jang Min Jun, deputy director of KTO Singapore, who is in charge of KTSC, said: “KTSC is excited to be supporting Korean travel tech startups throughout the accelerator programme. We believe that the first batch of 13 travel startups can make an impact on the travel industry in South-east Asia in time to come.”

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