The competition aims to boost innovation and tourism development with seed funding, mentorship, and global exposure.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced a new initiative aimed at promoting and supporting women-led startups in the tourism industry in the Middle East.
The organisation launched an entrepreneurial competition to bring awareness to the vitality of innovation as a relevant factor for tourism development among women in Qatar and the wider Middle East region.
In a recent interview with The Peninsula, Luis Nicolás Barrios, the Regional Manager of Innovation, Education, and Investments at UNWTO, explained that the organisation’s latest initiative is the first of its kind with a regional scope.
Its primary objective is to identify and support new and relevant entrepreneurial ventures led by women in various economic sectors that are closely linked to tourism.
“[The] Middle East is our latest initiative in this format, and first with regional scope, with the goal to map and support new and relevant entrepreneurial efforts led by women in a range of economic sectors directly connected with tourism,” he told the local news.
Since its inception in 2018, UNWTO’s innovation and digital transformation agenda has hosted close to 23 startup competitions across more than 150 countries.
“We know that women entrepreneurs have a greater focus on social impact when it comes to the mission and vision of the companies they create,” the official added.
Barrios highlighted that the UNWTO recognises that women entrepreneurs prioritise social impact as a fundamental aspect of their businesses’ mission and vision.
He later added that women entrepreneurs in Qatar have exhibited a “strong determination” to excel across various industries, and this platform offers them an opportunity to showcase innovative solutions at both regional and global levels.
Who can apply
“The application is open for startups based in the Middle East and led, owned, or managed by women. They need to be in the idea stage, early stage, or series A and must have a dedicated full-time team and a scalable business model with the potential for international expansion,” Barrios added.
Entrepreneurs who qualify for the final list of the competition will be presented with a unique opportunity to join the UNWTO Innovation Network and feature on the organisation’s global and social media platforms.
They will also have access to customised mentorship and consultancy sessions to guide them through the next stages of their business development.
According to the official, the finalists will also have the privilege of participating in capacity-building courses provided by renowned international and regional institutions, covering areas such as innovation, entrepreneurship, and communication.
Additionally, the finalists can benefit from potential seed funding and investments, along with accelerators and incubators associated with the UNWTO network.
To be eligible for the competition, startups must fall under one of four categories: social impact, tourism and travel experience, future tech, and events and community.
Interested applicants can register until the end of June.