Innovation and sustainability set the pace among tourism start-ups

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Innovation and sustainability set the pace among tourism start-ups
Zurab Pololikashvili, OMT
Fri January 10, 2020

The 2nd World Tourism Start-Up Competition of the World Tourism Organization and Globalia announces the finalists


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in association with Globalia, the leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America, has selected the finalists startups of the 2nd Tourism startup competition, an initiative that both entities have been promoting since 2018 when the first one was held edition.

In its first two editions, Wakalua, the first global tourism innovation hub promoted by Globalia in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization, has received proposals from almost 5,000 startups in 150 countries. The countries with the largest number of projects submitted have been led by Spain, followed by India, the United States, Portugal, Nigeria and Colombia.

The second edition has more mature emerging companies, 10% of which invoiced more than EUR 500,000 in 2018. The finalists will present their projects at the Wakalua headquarters in Madrid. Seven of them will get the award in their respective categories.

Building on the success of the first competition, this new edition continues the work of identifying the new companies that will lead the transformation of the sector. The objective and common denominator is to achieve a sustainable and profitable future using technology and innovation. The initiative is supported by partners such as Turismo de Portugal, Telefónica, Amadeus, Intu Costa del Sol, IE Africa Center and the Digital District of Valencia, among others.

These partners will participate actively in the final decision and the subsequent promotion, investment search or implementation of pilot projects with the winners:


This annual competition is one of the great projects of Wakalua, the tourism innovation hub Powered by Globalia in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization. Wakalua will host the winning companies for further development, providing support to interact with leading companies in the sector. The innovation consultant Barrabé is an additional partner that makes this project possible.

Deep Tech, rethinking location and geolocation: Powered by Amadeus, it is intended to select the best startups that offer a proposal that simplifies trips to customers or suppliers through location systems. . Solutions that combine location data with artificial intelligence, can be used to identify tourist regions, associate them with nearby airports, optimize, and offer sentiment analysis, among others.

Intelligent Mobility: In partnership with Telefónica, projects that improve the quality of travel and that facilitate the mobility of users using any transport system will be selected. The objective is to reduce economic, environmental and time costs.

Smart Destinations: With the collaboration of the Digital District of Valencia, solutions will be identified to improve the sustainability and profitability of the destination from an economic, environmental and socio-cultural point of view, where technology helps foster innovation and accessibility in a world every time more globalized

Disruptive hospitality: Intu Costa del Sol will analyze companies that help achieve a global experience for the traveler, combining the best solutions in the world of retail or retail, shopping centers, food, leisure and hotels, so that through of personalized services and digital connectivity every trip is as efficient and effective as possible.

Rural development: Globalia will place special emphasis on rural areas with the objective of transferring knowledge and innovation, and improving its viability and competitiveness. With the general objective of promoting change towards a more decarbonized economy, this category also seeks companies dedicated to animal risk and welfare management, as well as the restoration, preservation and improvement of ecosystems.

Innovative solutions in tourism: Tourism in Portugal, will award an award for the best innovation project that is not included in the previous categories.

Special recognition in sustainability: In addition, UNWTO and Globlia will deliver a special sustainability award whose objective is to provide visibility to projects that are committed to more efficient and sustainable tourism.

Finally, the IE Africa Center will award the Sun Cycles Namibia and Enjoy Agriculture Senegal projects for their social impact in Africa by granting them the Social Innovation Retreat Scholarship. For its part, Halla Travel, the winner of the Travel Tech 4 Good accelerator in collaboration with the Tui Care Foundation and Enpact, will also present its project on stage.



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