MIST Accelerator kicks off first batch of tourism startups

The block-bluster ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is just another instant boost to the Vietnamese tourism industry.

What can be a more sustainable, business-oriented boost?

A new accelerator called ‘Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism’ (MIST) was kicked off several months ago, targeting to transform travel in “one of the most dynamic regions on earth”.

While the program aims at startups in the lower Mekong region, including Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, and Vietnam, it has finally selected 11 qualified teams in Vietnam to unlock further tourism potentials.

This makes the total number of regional eligible startups for MIST count to 20.

And what is the best part?

It is not just about the $10,000 grant, it is valuable mentorship from Hai Ho, founder of Triip.me, one of the success stories of the Vietnam startup scene, Victor Chua, investment director at Gobi Partners, and Cong Nguyen, deputy director of Vietnam’s leading travel group TMG.

More than 250 travel tech and traditional tourism startups applied to the MIST program. The Travel Startups Incubator, based in the United States, screened applications based on their potential for investment and the quality of their business plans. MBI experts performed additional due diligence, considering sustainability and other socio-economic criteria. Finally, selections were verified in partnership with the Da Nang City Incubator (DNES).

The maiden MIST Startup Accelerator bootcamp will take place from May 5 to 7, 2017 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

An investor showcase will be then hosted at the Mekong Tourism Forum in Luang Prabang on June 6, 2017.

Let’s take a look at 11 Vietnamese tourism startups selected for the accelerator’s first class:

Bayo: The startup helps Vietnamese make the best travel decisions by helping them find the right travel information, right suppliers, right products and prices, and to transact with local suppliers easily.

Chameleon City is an on-demand chat-based service providing travel and lifestyle answers from local experts, 24/7.

Dichung uses technology to promote low-impact rideshare transportation options, giving drivers the chance to trade free seats in their vehicles and working with taxi companies to develop vanpools.

Hue Free Walking Tour operates the first and only walking tour of Hue that also offers add-on historical tours and hands-on experiences for independent English-speaking travelers.

I Love Asia offers women-led motorbike tours of Hoi An and Hue while supporting projects for disadvantaged communities in the cities in which they work.

Innaway is a mediator between hotels and travelers, helping hotels maximize revenue and improve quality standards, and helping travelers to travel smarter with better assistance and support.

Mimoza creates 3D virtual tours of top travel destinations, allowing potential and current tourists, travel providers and students to use virtual and augmented reality systems to learn about hotels, heritage sites, restaurants and more.

Morning Rooms is Vietnam’s largest budget hotel network, assisting economical tourists to find the right quality rooms at the price they need.

Oneclicktogo is an all-in-one trip planning website offering flight and hotel booking, guide book recommendations and a review platform, working to create a powerful tech-based tourism ecosystem that brings Mekong tourism businesses to the global market.

Tugo is a technology-based tour operator and travel community, striving to offer low-cost and reliable packages and tours around the world.

Putaleng Legend will offer diverse ecotourism experiences, adventure trekking tours and authentic ethnic cultural tours through its sustainable ecolodge.

This sounds fascinating! Alongside big hospitality projects and a war chest of money to promote Vietnam’s tourism on international media, startups will surely play a part in the $17.6 billion industry and help it grow to $35 billion by 2020 as directed by the government.

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