A glance at Innovation at UNWTO
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) believes that innovation is the key to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. To drive the digitalization of tourism, create an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem that will maximize the potential of the sector in terms of economic growth, job creation and sustainable development, and to anticipate, address and overcome the new challenges and trends of the tourism sector, in 2018 UNWTO developed a framework for Innovation, Education, Digital Transformation and Investments.
In the three years since their launch, the UNWTO Innovation Competitions and Challenges, have attracted talent from every global region. Such wide reach is reflected in the results of the last the seven competitions and six specific challenges which received over 7,750 applications from more than 150 countries. These projects have a proven potential to scale up and incorporate new technologies such as block-chain, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and augmented/virtual reality. The Challenges and Competitions are multi-thematic and can be tailored to the prevailing needs and demands of the tourism sector at any given time.
2020 in review
This year has presented unprecedented challenges to the sector but has also promoted innovation. Entrepreneurs have provided ground-breaking ideas and solutions to reboot the sector, specially aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19. This year’s top winning and shortlisted Startups came from all regions of the world, especially Europe and the Americas. Among the participants, 27,8% were women-leading startups, and 41% of this year’s winners were female entrepreneurs.
of Growth 2019 - 2020
Incubators / Accelerators
Among the solutions presented, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud were the preferred technologies mainly for delivering solutions related to Online Travel Agencies and Hotels & Hospitality Management. Even with the challenges of 2020, our Startups managed to source 37.122.932 USD in funding this year alone and 74.890.240 USD since the creation of the Department- ‘Angel’ and Venture Capitalists’ were identified as the main investors. Further information will be released soon in the Travel Tech Startups Ecosystem and Investment Landscape Report.
At the end of our second year of operation, UNWTO has directly supported more than 1,000 entrepreneurs around the world with numerous projects set to scale up in 2021 and beyond. These projects have the potential to restart tourism and benefit communities as well as contribute to the SDGs. Our gratitude goes to all the governments and public entities, academia, corporations, investors, Startups & MSMEs and supporting business partners who made these results possible during this unprecedented year. The 2021 UNWTO Innovation Agenda shall be full of more Challenges and Competitions to keep on encouraging the adoption of disruptive technologies and so offer more seamless and sustainable tourism, enhance capacity building and the chance to build back better, as well as the opportunity for the Startups to connect, partner, and scale-up.