Mekong innovative startups support programmes open for applications hinh anh 1The MIST Tourism Start-up Bootcamp 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam. (Photo:

Hanoi (VNA) – The Destination Mekong and the Mekong Business Initiative on February 7 announced their 2018 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) business support programmes are now open for applications.

For the first time, the MIST Startup Accelerator is welcoming applications for tourism, hospitality, and travel tech startups headquartered in Thailand, besides Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The Startup Accelerator provides support to early-stage companies with innovative and scalable business models. The programme will close to applications on March 10, 2018.

The 15 to 20 startups selected to the Accelerator will attend an all-expenses-paid intensive boot camp where they will compete for six months of advanced mentorship, in-kind acceleration support valued at 20,000 USD, prize money up to 10,000 USD, and customised business matching with potential investors and partners.

The MIST Market Access Program, now in its second year, is soliciting applications from successful, small-to-mid-sized international tourism, hospitality, and travel tech companies that want assistance expanding into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The Market Access Program will close to applications on March 31, 2018. Past participants have hailed from Australia, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and the United States.

As many as five companies accepted into the Market Access Program will receive consulting to support their market access plans, and they will be introduced to key stakeholders in the region including government and industry leaders. The applicant with the highest-potential plan for the region will receive a complimentary market access tour valued at 15,000 USD.

"The Greater Mekong Sub-region’s government, tourism, and hospitality leaders have embraced MIST as a force for innovation, sustainability, and growth in the region,” said Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. “Through this programme, we have created the ideal mechanism for tourism innovators and travel startups to get paired with investors and industry mentors who can equip them to scale and thrive.”

Destination Mekong and the Mekong Business Initiative – with the backing of the Government of Australia, the Asian Development Bank, and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office – launched MIST in 2016 to propel innovation in the rapidly growing tourism markets of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. MIST aims to expedite tourism industry growth, create an ecosystem that inspires innovation, and promote sustainability in tourism.-VNA