UNWTO Global Rural Tourism Startup Competition

UNWTO Global Rural Tourism Startup Competition

UNWTO Global Rural Tourism Startup Competition seeks to source new startups and entrepreneurs that advance the contribution of tourism to rural development and support recovery. Creating opportunities in Rural Destinations through innovation and digital transformation in tourism to:

  • Fighting poverty: 80% of all people living in ‘extreme poverty’ live in rural communities.
  • Curbing depopulation: By 2050 68% of the world population will live in urban areas and cities will produce 85% of global economic output.
  • Closing the Digital Divide – 87 per cent of people in developed countries used the Internet, compared with just 19 per cent in the least developed countries.
  • Supporting Women and Youth– More that 50% of global workforce employed in tourism are women and nearly 1 billion of the world’s 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 reside in developing countries and 88% of youth in developing countries live in rural areas; 75 million of them are unemployed.

Benefits of UNWTO Global Rural Tourism Startup Competition

  • Mentoring by UNWTO and top partners.
  • Tailored support for your startup.
  • Investment opportunities.
  • Form part of the UNWTO Innovation Network.
  • Form part of the UNWTO Best Tourism Villages of the World Pilot Initiative.
  • Scholarship opportunities for the Tourism Online Academy.
  • Opportunity to present your startup at the 14th UNWTO General Assembly in Marrakech Morocco.


  • People – Leaving no one behind: Projects that incentivize the creation of jobs and opportunities, promote gender and youth empowerment, build opportunities for vulnerable groups in rural areas.
  • Planet – building back better: Projects related to the promotion and protection of natural resources, namely the mitigation of the impact of tourism on waste, energy and water in rural areas.
  • Prosperity – opportunities for growth: Startups that provide innovative solutions through new business models, instruments that promote access to finance, markets and marketing for tourism in rural areas.
  • Propulsion of Rural Tech – Implementation of new technologies: Deep Tech – startups implementing new technologies to advance tourism and development in rural areas.

The Challenge

  • Closer: Domestic tourism has shown positive signs in many markets since people tend to travel closer. Travellers go for ‘staycations’ or vacations close to home.
  • New concerns: Health & Safety measures and cancellation policies are consumers’ main concerns.
  • Get away: Nature, Rural Tourism and Road Trips have emerged as popular travel choices due to travel limitations and the quest for open-air experiences.
  • Last minute: Last-minute bookings have increased due to volatility of pandemic-related events and the travel restrictions.
  • Younger travellers most resilient, Change in demographics: travel recovery has been stronger among younger segments. ‘Mature’ travellers and retirees will be the most impacted segments.
  • More responsible, Sustainability, authenticity and localhood: travellers have been giving more importance to creating a positive impact on local communities, increasing looking for authenticity.

Deadline to submit candidatures: 1 July

Visit the official site here

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