The MIST program evolves from “Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism” to “Mekong Innovations in Sustainable Tourism”.

MIST program aims to expedite tourism industry growth, create an ecosystem that inspires innovation, and promote sustainability in tourism.

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) (www.MekongTourism.org) as the secretariat of the Tourism Working Group of the six national tourism organizations of the Greater Mekong Subregion, and Destination Mekong (www.DestinationMekong.com), the public-private collaboration framework of the Lancang-Mekong Region, in consultation with the six-member governments of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and its partner the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to evolve the 4-year old trail-blazing initiative. Originally limited to only startups in the two categories of travel tech and travel social enterprises, the evolved MIST program will focus on innovations in sustainable tourism, resilience, and climate change in the Greater Mekong Subregion, aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nominations are open to any business entity, from startups to established corporates, from NGOs to governments, and from individuals to partnerships, coming from the six-member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion, as well as from all over the world if the initiative can be applied to driving sustainability and resilience in the Mekong Region. 

For this new chapter of MIST, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office has decided to bring onboard the Swiss-based Ecosystem builder Seedstars. According to Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, and Chair of Destination Mekong: “This is an important and significant step forward to continue to innovate our initiatives to stay relevant to the changing needs of the tourism industry, during and post the current COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping our powerful MIST brand, the focus will be on innovative and creative projects and concepts driving sustainability and resilience to recover travel and tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion.” 

In the first quarter of 2021, MIST will invite nominations from startups, established companies, government organizations, NGOs, academia, media, as well as individuals, students, and partnerships. For an entry to be accepted it needs to be an operating initiative or project that drives sustainable tourism and resilience. The MIST jury, made up of members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG - https://www.destinationmekong.com/mekong-tourism-advisory-group/) and Seedstars, will judge the final pitches during a hybrid MIST Forum planned for the second half of 2021 in Bangkok.   Nominations are being accepted starting February 1, 202 until April 31, 2021 at www.MIST.asia, and existing MIST nominations are being considered based on the new criteria.   The MIST program celebrates creative ideas and innovation, featuring qualified initiatives on the Mekong Innovations Showcase (https://www.destinationmekong.com/projects/mekong-coronavirus-innovations/), encouraging partnerships and investments.  

Now in its 4th year, the MIST program has been one of the first tourism board globally pioneering its own travel startup program, integrating innovation and entrepreneurship with the travel and tourism ecosystem. 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 Subregion. MIST aims to expedite tourism industry growth, create an ecosystem that inspires innovation, and promote sustainability in tourism.   The MIST program is guided by an international advisory board made up of travel executives and investors in the travel and tourism industry. 

In 2017 and 2018, the final pitching competitions were integrated into the Mekong Tourism Forums in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR and Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, respectively.  In 2019, Destination Mekong partnered with the Travel Startups Asia Forum in Bangkok, to host the final MIST pitching competition, and inspired delegates with panels and keynotes including from former Minister of Sports and Tourism if Thailand, HE Mr Weerasak Kowsurat and Nok Air Founder Mr. Patee Sarasin. The successful MIST Mentorships Bootcamp was hosted at the offices of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in Bangkok, conducting workshops by investors, travel executives, and MIST alumni for MIST 2019 finalists. Winners of the travel technology category were invited to present at the MIST Forum at ITB Asia in Singapore.

About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office:

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), located in Bangkok, was set up with funding from the governments of the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries – Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The MTCO, which operates on annual financial contributions from each GMS country, acts as the secretariat for the GMS Tourism Working Group, comprising of senior officials of the six GMS countries’ National Tourism Organizations, to coordinate and facilitate sustainable tourism development of the GMS, and promotion of the Mekong region as a single travel and tourism destination, in collaboration with the public and private sectors. The MTCO manages its award-winning MekongTourism.org digital platform as a one-stop platform to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the region, as well as the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, whose hosting is rotated among GMS countries.

Please visit www.MekongTourism.org for more information.

About Destination Mekong:

Destination Mekong was created in 2017 to promote the Mekong region, comprising of Cambodia, PR China (Provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam as a single tourism destination to stimulate responsible and sustainable development and investment, and drive inclusive growth. Endorsed by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and aligned with the mandate of the regional collaborative tourism framework of the six-member governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Destination Mekong executes targeted projects and initiatives, including Mekong Moments, Mekong Mini Movie Festival, Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST), Experience Mekong Collection, Mekong Heroes, and Mekong Trends, with feedback from the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group (MeTAG) and via public-private partnership investment structure, led by UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies. 

Please visit www.DestinationMekong.com for more information.

About Seedstars

Seedstars is a Swiss-based private company with a mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. The groups’ activities cover over 90 emerging ecosystems through a variety of initiatives such as the Online Seedstars World Competition, acceleration programs, physical hubs called Seedspace, venture capital investments and company building activities. Seedstars The Documentary is a feature film featuring the company’s vision to give a voice to the game changers of the developing world.

 "They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds." - Mexican proverb 

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