Contxto – Unbeknownst to most, over the past three months, tourism startups from all over the world have been duking it out in a battle royale for the best tourism solutions. It has all been taking place right under our noses at the Second Global Tourism Startup Competition.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in association with Globalia—a tourism group in Spain and Latin America—recently selected the finalists and Latam fans will not be disappointed by the outcome.
The competition was fierce. The contest’s two editions have seen over 5,000 startups from 150 countries come and go. We were glad to see that it was Colombian startups that made up the fifth-largest group in the running. But now, the vast majority have been expelled in this penultimate round.
However, it was two Mexican and a Peruvian startup that made it to the elite finalists’ list. It is comprised of 10 tourism companies from five different subcategories.
Subsections in sustainable solutions
The 10 finalists we subdivided, two each, into six separate categories. All were different, but each focused on innovative tourism solutions that took into account ethics, sustainability, and technology. These were Deep Tech, Disruptive Hospitality, Smart Mobility Rural Development, Innovative Tourism Solutions, and Sustainability.
Of these, Deep Tech, Disruptive Hospitality, and Rural development saw Latin American selectees.
First, there was Mexico’s Klustera. Its data collection, user profiling, and activation tech helped it snap up the Deep Tech finalist position.
This category was in search of solutions that combined location data with artificial intelligence to be used in identifying tourism regions, associating them with nearby airports, optimizing, and offering opinion mining, among others. Klustera certainly had what it took. The company was already a promising new upstart early last year, as it participated in Google’s Mexico City Launchpad Accelerator.
Then, there was the dinner for Disruptive Hospitality: Hackpacking. This Peruvian startup’s mission is to make air travel easier. It provides everything a traveler needs at the destination to avoid bringing it with them. These items chiefly include clothes, accessories, and personal hygiene goods.
Finally, Mexican startup, Rutopía, won out in the Rural Development category. This was one of the broader subcategories in the race. In it, startups had to find solutions focused on transferring knowledge and innovation, and improving their viability and competitiveness. Its overall objective was the promotion of a shift towards an increasingly low-carbon economy, while also seeking out companies devoted to risk management and animal welfare, and the restoration, preservation, and improvement of ecosystems.
Luckily, Rutopía was all in on this. Plus, by the time it was competing at this competition, it had already begun scaling with the help of Airbnb and had won the prestigious Hult Prize for its ecotourism model.
Related article: Mexican Rutopía earns the Hult Prize 2019 for its eco-tourism model
Related article: Adventures await travelers with Mexican startup, Rutopía, and Airbnb
World tour of sustainable solutions
This second edition of the Global Tourism Startup Competition featured startups at a more mature stage than the last time. Around 10 percent had had an annual turnover surpassing 500,000 euros (almost US$557,000) by 2018.
Now, finalists will present their projects at the Wakalua headquarters in Madrid on December 21. The winning startups will receive support to drive their future development. The help will include the creation of links with leading companies in the sector.
Seven will win awards in their respective categories. So, unless something goes incredibly wrong, we should be reporting about the triumph of Latin American startups at this year’s Global Tourism Startup Competition in no time.