Bangkok, Thailand, May 25, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) as the secretariat of the Tourism Working Group of the six national tourism organizations of the Greater Mekong Subregion, and Destination Mekong, the public-private collaboration framework of the Lancang-Mekong Region, formally opens the call for application of the 2020 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) program. Travel startups in the two categories, travel technology ventures and social impact ventures from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. For the first time, MIST also welcomes startups headquartered in the Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in PR China. Its 2020 cohort will close to applications on July 15, 2020.
“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 Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. “Through this program, 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.”
Now in its 4th year, the MIST program has been one of the first tourism board globally pioneering its own travel startup program, integrating innovation and entrepreneurship with the travel and tourism ecosystem. Destination Mekong and the Mekong Business Initiative – with the backing of the Government of Australia, the Asian Development Bank, and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office – launched MIST in 2016 to propel innovation in the rapidly growing tourism markets of the Greater Mekong Subregion. MIST aims to expedite tourism industry growth, create an ecosystem that inspires innovation, and promote sustainability in tourism. The MIST program 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, Lao PDR 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, and inspired delegates with panels and keynotes including from former Minister of Sports and Tourism if Thailand, HE Mr Weerasak Kowsurat and Nok Air Founder Mr. Patee Sarasin. The successful MIST Mentorships Bootcamp was hosted at the offices of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (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. One interesting innovation coming out of the Virtual MIST Advisory Board Meeting are virtual 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 end of 2020.
MIST 2020 nomination in the two categories, Travel Technology Ventures and Social Impact Ventures, are open, and can be submitted at no cost at: a/nomination-2/ until July 15, 2020.
About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office:
The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), located in Bangkok, was set up with funding from the governments of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries – Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The MTCO, which operates on annual financial contributions from each GMS country, acts as the secretariat for the GMS Tourism Working Group, comprising of senior officials of the six GMS countries’ National Tourism Organizations, to coordinate and facilitate sustainable tourism development of the GMS, and promotion of the Mekong region as a single travel and tourism destination, in collaboration with the public and private sectors. The MTCO manages its award-winning MekongTourism.org digital platform as a one-stop platform to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the region, as well as the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, whose hosting is rotated among GMS countries.
About Destination Mekong:
Destination Mekong was created in 2017 to promote the Mekong region, comprising of Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam as a single tourism destination to stimulate responsible and sustainable development and investment, and drive inclusive growth. Endorsed by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and aligned with the mandate of the regional collaborative tourism framework of the six-member governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Destination Mekong executes targeted projects and initiatives, including Mekong Moments, Mekong Mini Movie Festival, Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST), Experience Mekong Collection, Mekong Heroes, and Mekong Trends, with feedback from the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) and via public-private partnership investment structure, led by UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies.