The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced the winners of the “Awake Tourism Challenge”, celebrating the start-up businesses that are reshaping the sector in every global region, who will now be incubated at Les Roches Global Hospitality Education.
In the second edition of the UNWTO global start-up competition focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals, entrants were judged on how they are contributing to the development of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable tourism sector, with a focus on six core themes: Local Community Involvement; Green and Blue Economies; Ecological and Sustainable Capital Creation; Tourism Tech for Good; Tourism Education; and Women Empowerment.
The competition attracted more than 2,000 entrants from 120 countries worldwide. The most submissions were from Europe, the Americas and Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. From these, an expert panel selected 30 finalists and then 15 winners.
Reflecting the broad talent of the global tourism sector, the winning start-ups are Coastruction (Netherlands), Noytrall (Portugal), SmArt Tourism and Hospitality Consulting (Panama), Quantum Temple (USA), Socialbnb (Germany), Instituto de Accesibilidad (Spain), Kamatjona (Namibia), Baahdy & Birdy (Norway), WeavAir (Singapore), r3charge (Germany), Impact Innovations Institute (Armenia), NomadHer (South Korea), Murmuration (France), Evelity by Okeenea Digital (France) and Accessible Qatar (Qatar).
The projects were recognised for offering innovative service with high customer value, most notably with high levels of youth engagement and the involvement of local communities, and for their use of technology to monitor and manage the environmental impact of tourism activity.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism start-ups have the power and agility to transform the sector in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The winners of the UNWTO Awake Tourism Challenge all have the potential to help build a more inclusive and resilient sector and we look forward to supporting them as they grow in size and influence.”
The winning start-ups will be offered an incubation period of three months at SPARK Crans-Montana, the Innovation Hub of Les Roches from the Sommet Education group, where they will be participating in mentorships, networking activities and have access to a VR Lab, Digital Studio, and a dedicated co-working space. In addition, they will also receive scholarships for the UNWTO Tourism Online Academy, be included in the UNWTO catalogue of top innovators, be featured in a global communications campaign to showcase each winner, and be invited for mentorships with project partners.
Carlos Díez de la Lastra, Chief Executive Officer at Les Roches, said: “We are thrilled to welcome the winning start-ups on our campuses; supporting and nurturing their talents so they can transform their ideas and creativity in concrete services and products that will impact the way we all live and travel tomorrow in a sustainable way.”
Three years ago Les Roches made innovation one of its main education priorities and created SPARK, an innovation sphere encompassing applied research projects with students, faculty and companies, pre-incubation and incubation of start-ups, spaces dedicated to innovation on its campuses, events and conferences, challenges and testing projects. Today, SPARK holds 70 hospitality, tech and public institutions partners, works on more than 100 applied research projects, and incubates over 50 start-ups as well as holding 10 events per year, creating a unique innovation network in hospitality.