Vietnam wins 2nd prize in regional travel startup competition hinh anh 1Foreign tourists enjoy cycling in Viet Hai Village, Cat Ba Island. (Photo:

Hanoi (VNA) - Vietnamese startup travel company Ecohost beat 110 competitors to take second prize in the 2018 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) challenge.

The elite travel startup competition, supported by the Australian Government and Asian Development Bank, includes Asia’s most prominent travel-specialised venture capitalists among its advisors.

MIST’s second prize comes with a 5,000 USD innovation grant.

Ecohost enables quality tourism experiences in Vietnam’s countryside, working village-by-village to develop tours and activities while improving the capacity of rural homestays to serve international guests.

“The MIST innovation grant will enable us to deliver skills training courses across three villages and upgrading homestays for 15 families,” said Ecohost CEO Bui Thi Nhan.

Ecohost came in second to BambooLao from Luang Prabang, Laos. BambooLao is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastics from hotels and resorts across Asia. They have produced more than 80,000 reusable bamboo straws and other bamboo utensils, using indigenous bamboo varieties and a proprietary natural treatment process.

MIST supports high-growth-potential emerging market startups in travel and hospitality – especially startups that generate positive impacts for communities, culture, and the environment. The programme’s five 2018 finalists refined their business acumen and pitching skills during MIST’s week-long business fundamentals bootcamp, five months of customised coaching by industry experts, and MIST pitch competitions in Ho Chi Minh City, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, and ITB-Asia’s Mekong Travel Startup Forum in Singapore. 

“BambooLao, Ecohost, and other MIST finalists demonstrate how the Mekong region’s bright, innovative entrepreneurs are finding practical solutions to solve industry problems, while striving to make tourism more inclusive and sustainable," said Jens Thraenhart, co-organiser of MIST and executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. - VNA