World Tourism Organization calls on innovators & entrepreneurs

Siobháin Spear
Apr 1, 2020

The United Nations specialized tourism agency has included innovation in its wider response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched a global challenge to reach budding entrepreneurs, disruptive startups and innovators in a bid to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector. Amidst the crisis, the UNWTO has announced a ‘Healing Solutions’ challenge in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), hoping that we can take steps forward with sustainable development as we tackle the obstacles that this pandemic has presented to the world.

The threat to tourism

Despite the fact that tourism has seen continuous growth over the last decade, the COVID-19 pandemic will hit the tourism sector harder than any other sector, meaning that millions of jobs around the world are at risk.

UWTO statistics on tourism from 2010-2019
UNWTO shares statistics on tourism growth over the last 10 years

The coronavirus has created unprecedented economic pressures. However, it is often in the face of adversity that the most innovative solutions are brought to the global stage. Commenting on the launch of the “Healing Solutions” challenge, Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, said: “the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic is a challenge we must face together… our response must be calm, consistent and collective. Tourism will once again be there to help people and communities recover from this setback.”

Working together with the WHO, the UNWTO aims to place tourism at the heart of future recovery efforts, boost global collaboration efforts and assert international solidarity.

Healing Solutions for Tourism

The ‘Healing Solutions Tourism Challenge’ is aimed at finding ideas that can make a difference right away: for destinations, for businesses and for public health efforts.

The challenge calls on startups, entrepreneurs and innovators from all over the world with ready-to-implement solutions to drive the Covid-19 impacts in tourism. These solutions could put forward methods, processes, governance structures, social impact initiatives, new technological applications, existing technologies and any other ways of innovating the tourism sector as it navigates a new way forward.

Three categories for entry

There are three categories under which participants can submit solutions to the ‘Healing Solutions Tourism Challenge’:

Healing for People: Participants should submit pitches for solutions focused on areas such as safety measures, sanitizing methods, early detection, among others for tourism and travel-related stakeholders. The solutions should be able to be used by tourists, tourism employees, hospitality operations, travel agencies, tour-operators, transportation, amusement parks, etc.

Healing for Prosperity: Participants should submit pitches for solutions focused on digital applications for tourism, sharing economy, circular economy, revenue management, demand recovery, investments – among other areas. These solutions should be able to be implemented for the whole sector, in the near and long-term future.

Healing for Destinations: Participants should submit pitches for solutions focused on recovery techniques for destinations: crisis communication, crisis management, mobility, tourism destinations re-branding, travel confidence recovery – among other related areas.

Benefits of pitching your idea

The UNWTO has announced that the following benefits will be awarded for the most viable and ready-to-implement solutions will be awarded as follows:

  • Digital booklet: to reach 150+ ministers and forward information from the best providers for tourism recovery.
  • Business presentation: to the world governments with the UNWTO Secretary-General from the IE University Wow Room; this is the most innovative space to share the solutions.
  • Connection with the UNWTO Innovation Network: access to more than 5000 tourism-related startups, 930 corporations, 300 public institutions, 50 education institutions, 30 incubators and 200 investors.

How do I enter the Healing Solutions Challenge?

The Healing Solutions Tourism Challenge is open to participants until 15 April, 2020:

  • You have until April 15 to submit your pitch
  • Top startups will be announced on 20 April, 2020
  • The selection of finalists will be awarded benefits on 25 April, 2020

For more information on the UNWTO initiative, visit the Healing Solutions Tourism Challenge directly.

To stay up-to-date with the latest regional travel news, subscribe to World Traveller Middle EastFor the latest health updates regarding coronavirus, ensure that the information you are consuming is from an official source