Foreign visitors visit ​Cai Rang floating market in the Mekong River Delta province of ​Can Tho (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - The Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Initiative has announced two new accelerators designed to make it easier for innovative tourism businesses to be established in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The MIST Startup Accelerator will take entries from early stage companies with either travel technology or traditional tourism business plans. Meanwhile, the MIST Market Access Accelerator is welcoming applications from mature international tourism startups needing assistance entering the region.

Both accelerators will receive applications until March 19.

Dominic Mellor, senior Asian Development Bank economist and head of the Mekong Business Initiative said the MIST accelerator programmes would create jobs, help local communities and support entrepreneurship.

Applicants must demonstrate how they will create jobs, generate positive community impacts and contribute to sustainable tourism growth in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam.

Those accepted into the MIST Startup Accelerator will attend boot camps to develop their business plans. The top business plans for each country will win grants, with the best overall receiving 10,000 USD and the three runners-up receiving 7,000 USD each.

Participants in both MIST accelerators will pitch their plans to investors, global acceleration programmes, and tourism leaders at the Mekong Tourism Forum, which will be held in Luang Prabang, Laos, and at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam’s central city of Da Nang in November.

“The Great Mekong sub-region is among the fastest growing tourism destinations on Earth. Startups can disrupt traditional practices to adapt to changing consumer behaviours, but let’s also encourage responsible innovation that enhances the region’s appeal for future generations,” Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, said.

MIST is a joint venture of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and the Mekong Business Initiative. It receives regional funding, advisory and technical support from the Asian Development Bank, Australia, Amadeus Next, the Pacific Asia Travel Association and Village Capital.-VNA