The MIST Market Access Program invites innovators from around the world to solve tourism and hospitality industry challenges in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
NAKHON PHANOM, Thailand - Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) will support 10 innovative travel and hospitality companies in 2018. The two-year-old innovation program aims to identify and support high-growth travel and hospitality businesses that have potential to contribute positively to local communities, economies, and the environment. It is jointly supported by the Asian Development Bank, Australian Government, and six-government Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. MIST features a startup accelerator as well as a separate market access program.
The MIST Startup Accelerator teaches business fundamentals to early-stage travel and hospitality startups, while connecting them with industry and investors. Five local entrepreneurs from Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam earned spots:
- BambooLao (Lao PDR) produces reusable bamboo straws.
- Ecohost (Vietnam) improves local homestay management and activities.
- Go Explore (Vietnam) organizes "workation" programs aimed at international and domestic remote workers.
- Sidesbag (Cambodia) enables airline passengers to purchase luggage allowance from fellow travelers.
- VDEs (Vietnam) connects event planners with event venues.
The Startup Accelerator finalists will reconvene in October, concurrent with ITB Asia in Singapore, to compete for innovation grants up to USD $10,000.
The MIST Market Access Program invites innovators from around the world to solve tourism and hospitality industry challenges in the Greater Mekong Subregion. The program helps innovators clear market entry obstacles, form local partnerships, and secure financing for proof-of-concept pilots. MIST selected five companies to join the Market Access program:
- Adventoro is a bookable directory bucket-list worthy activities including whitewater rafting, jungle treks, and diving excursions.
- DidaTravel Technology offers backend technology for hotel booking, providing real-time inventory and rates.
- hereO, creator of the heroO GPS watch for kids, offers plug-and-play IoT technology.
- Moneybay provides a digital cross-border currency exchange platform.
- Monkey Theory offers branded sporting events.
"There is no doubt that technology is rapidly transforming travel. The trick is to harness and accelerate innovative business models that also positively transform lives, communities, and the natural environment," said Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.
"MIST has received more than 350 applications from all over the world, demonstrating the Greater Mekong Subregion's dynamism as a destination and its attractiveness to innovators. We are excited to see how these technologies and business models will transform an already fast-growing industry," said Dominic Mellor, senior investment advisor for the Asian Development Bank.