WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION, UNWTO, has launched 1st UNWTO Sports Tourism Start-up Competition. It is designed to identify projects and innovations that can transform sport tourism sector in the future. It is in collaboration with Barça Innovation Hub, BIHUB, and support from Qatar National Tourism Council, QNTC.
The competition is looking for start ups with disruptive ideas focused on solving real needs and addressing knowledge gaps in the growing sports tourism sector.
UNWTO said, increasing demand from tourists and growing influence of sports on destinations popularity, have combined to make sports tourism one of the segments with the greatest potential for socio-economic development opportunities, and is attracting growing government interest.
Twenty start-ups, in all, will be shortlisted by panel of international experts, and sports and tourism stakeholders, drawn from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society. Shortlisted start-ups will be announced on the competition’s website. The panel will select five semi-finalists who will all be invited to Barcelona to pitch their ideas to sports experts, government representatives, tourism business leaders and international investors.
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, while opening the competition, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with the Barça Innovation Hub to harness the potential of sports tourism to stimulate creativity, innovation and sustainable growth.
“Through this competition, start-ups with disruptive visions can propose new ideas that will allow the sports tourism sector to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. We thank BIHUB for their vision and collaboration and, as we move towards the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, we thank the QNTC for their support for this exciting project”.
As part of the partnership with QNTC, the winning ideas will also be considered for implementation in Qatar, which is gearing up to host the FIFA World Cup 2022.
“At QNTC we believe sporting events have a unique power to bring people of the world together, and that is also why sports tourism is a key focus area in our tourism vision. We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that will come through the inaugural Sports Tourism Start-Up Competition and hope that one of them will come to life in Qatar”, Akbar Al Baker, Secretary-General, QNTC said.
“We are very pleased to work together with UNWTO to develop tourism in relation to the sports industry, a growing sector, and identify companies with the talents to help achieve this. Barcelona is a city linked to design and innovation, and a tourism hub.
“At BIHUB we want to make Barcelona the Silicon Valley of the sports industry and to use our experience as a tourist attraction, with the FC Barcelona museum the most visited in the Catalan region and more than 4 million people visiting our ground every year”, Marta Plana, Director of BIHUB, said on his part.