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​Mekong tourism accelerator calls for startups in travel tech

Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 18:06 GMT+7

The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) is calling for entries from emerging regional startups in the fields of tourism and travel tech for a chance to win financial and professional support to launch their business into success.

MIST is an initiative of the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) and Destination Mekong that aims at giving startups in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam a launch-pad to achieve profitability, create jobs and impact local communities.

Early-stage startups from these Mekong countries can apply for a chance to win US$10,000 in cash together with a six-month training course in the U.S. worth $20,000 and numerous opportunities to connect with potential investors and business partners.

Eligible startups are those with innovative business concepts in tourism and travel technology and that can demonstrate the growth potential of their business model.

The deadline for entry submission is March 10, 2018, after which between 15 and 20 top startups among the applications will be counseled by experts in their fields before competing against one another for the highest grant.

MIST 2018 also includes a Market Access Program for mature startups based anywhere in the world that want MIST’s assistance localizing proven tourism products and solutions into the Greater Mekong region.

The deadline for submissions for the Market Access Program is March 31, 2018, after which a maximum of five entries will move on to the next round where they will be connected to relevant organizations and government bodies to realize their market expansion.

The best among them will also receive a grant of $15,000.

“MIST is unique in that it integrates the Greater Mekong region’s travel startups into an ecosystem for sustainable tourism development,” said Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and organizer of the Mekong Tourism Forum.

“The entrepreneurs I’ve met through MIST have convinced me that tourism in our region has a very bright future.”

MIST began in December 2016 as a joint venture between the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the Government of Australia, and the Asian Development Bank-supported Mekong Business Initiative.

The initiative was initially open to startups from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and has only expanded to accept entries from Thailand for the first time this year.

More than 250 applications for the accelerator program were submitted to MIST 2017.

Chameleon, an on-demand chat-based service providing around the clock answers from local experts to travel and lifestyle questions, was the only Vietnamese entry to win one of the top prizes from the MIST tourism accelerator last year.

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