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World Tourism Organization and Globalia announce worldwide competition for tourism start-ups

Jun 28, 2018

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in partnership with Globalia, the leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America, have joined forces to launch the first and largest initiative devoted to identifying new companies that will lead the transformation of the tourism sector.

The 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition is open to 164 countries. The competition will try to identify the best start-up projects aimed at transforming the tourism industry. Whether tech-based or non-technological, early-stage or more mature, any start-up with innovative ideas capable of revolutionising the way people travel and enjoy tourism is welcome to participate.

The objective of the programme is to select the best solutions and the most disruptive projects. The search will focus on finding pioneering proposals for implementation of emerging and disruptive technologies, as well as on start-ups based on new business models, such as the circular economy. In this regard, one of the pillars of this competition is to give visibility to projects that are committed to enhancing sustainability in tourism.

With international tourist arrivals growing 6% in the first four months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, addressing sustainability in such a growing industry is even more necessary than ever. As UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili says, “International tourism continues to show significant growth worldwide, and this translates into job creation in many economies. This growth reminds us of the need to increase our capacity to develop and manage tourism in a sustainable way, building smart destinations and making the most of technology and innovation”.

The start-up search process is as ambitious as it is complex; identifying the best projects in all corners of the planet. To participate in this global competition, start-ups must present business models that are related to at least one of four main areas: the future of travel, the tourism experience, environmental impact and community development.

“Innovation and tourism investment are not ends in themselves; they are means to develop better tourism products, to improve the governance of tourism and to make the most of the proven sustainability of tourism, by creating jobs and generating opportunities,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

The winners of this competition will have the opportunity to be part of the leading companies in the tourism sector. For his part, Globalia CEO Javier Hidalgo confirmed his company’s support for this new initiative, emphasising that “as a global tourism group, we want to offer the winners the opportunity to work with us and transform the sector together”.

How to enter

Those interested in participating can find more information and submit their applications through the programme’s website at Applications are open from 26 June to 3 September 2018. The projects will be evaluated according to five criteria: uniqueness and viability of the solution, potential impact, business model, scalability and team profile. A jury will evaluate the entries and select the best projects, with semi-finalists to be announced in September 2018.


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a United Nations specialised agency, is the leading international organisation with the decisive and central role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.

About Globalia

Globalia is the number one tourism group in Ibero-America, with a turnover of over 3.57 billion euros in 2016. With a presence in more than 20 countries and 15,000 employees, Globalia Holding provides services to all sectors of the world of tourism. It comprises a number of independent companies that are leaders in their markets, including Air Europa (airline), Halcón Viajes (travel agencies), Travelplan (tour operator), Be Live (hotel chain) and Groundforce (airport handling).


World Tourism Organization and Globalia announce the first and largest worldwide competition for tourism startups – 26 June, 2018

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